The Boston Red Sox have a sparkling new spring training facility in Florida. ‘JetBlue Park at Fenway South’ has a playing field that is designed to reflect the field dimensions of Fenway Park. Watching spring training reports over the last few weeks it has sometimes been difficult to tell whether the reporter was standing in Boston or Fort Meyers. OK, maybe the golf shirt and sun was a clue! In conversation with many hardcore Sox fans I know they have at times felt the same way.
I have begun to wonder whether this new complex is a preview of what could be possible as the real Fenway Park is closing in on end of its life span. The building can not last forever. That plus the demands of creating revenues to fund what is the second highest payroll in baseball means that at some point it is going to come down to butts in the seats and more opportunities to extract money from the wallets of both fans and advertisers. Of course the out cry from traditionalists will mean a hearty ‘Save Fenwway’ will echo from all corners of New England.
As Fenway South shows, Fenway Park does not have to go away. In fact it is transportable! Whether at its current site or somewhere else in Boston, what we love about baseball’s ‘Most Beloved’ park can continue while what is around it, the stands and amenities, evolve to reflect both the business needs of the team and demands of modern fans. In my lifetime Yankee Stadium has undergone a major renovation in 1974 and then was torn down and moved across the street in 2009. If the tradition laden Bronx Bombers can pull it off , there is no doubt that it will eventually happen in Boston.
The fact is that as long as most fans turn on the television as see the green monster and center field triangle they won’t skip a beat.