Fenway Action Coalition
P.O. Box 230439
Boston, MA 02123-045
Phone (617) 437-1994
Fax (617) 247-4248
FENWAY PARK MEGAPLEX
17 August 1998
Background and Summary
Based on a poll compiled in June of 1998 by the Fenway Community
Development Corporation; and an informal consensus of permanent Fenway
residents, the Fenway Action Coalition has arrived at a number findings
and recommendations concerning the Fenway Park Megaplex now under
design. Although this venture has not been officially unveiled, a
considerable number of press leaks from city agencies and informed
parties has provided critical details about the scope and nature of this
Our current understanding of the Red Sox view regarding a stadium
facility suggests a number of elements. 1) That the existing Fenway
Park facility is structurally at the end of its working life and must be
replaced; 2) that the facilities are antiquated and retrofitting would
be prohibitively expensive; 3) seating capacity must be increased by
15,000, from 33,000 to 48,000; and 4) luxury box seating must be added
to the ballpark. The club is adamant that an entirely new facility must
be built on a new location adjacent to the existing Fenway Park baseball
Most critically, since there will be no public financing for this new
Fenway Park, the Red Sox say that they must add ancillary "entertainment
infrastructure" (their term) such as hotels, shopping malls, luxury
condominiums", food courts, office facilities and so forth. All this
adds up to a 15 acre "Megaplex".
In the past, the Red Sox themselves have publicly expressed a desire to
leave the Fenway as part of a South Boston Megaplex that included a new
Patriots Football Stadium. Team management seems to have recognized that
the massive "Urban Mall" Megaplex they envision is totally unsuited to
the primitive transportation infrastructure and generally dense
population of the surrounding Fenway neighborhood.
However, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has made it clear to the Red Sox
that they stay on or adjacent to the current Fenway location. Menino has
never consulted with neighborhood residents; he's never attended any
community meetings on this and related issues, although Boston
Redevelopment Authority staffers have attended such events. The Mayor
has remained aloof and imperious despite unmistakable community
Nonetheless, the Mayor persists. Why he insists the Red Sox stay in the
Fenway remains an enigma. Recent press reports suggest that cronyism and
City Hall insider associations, particularly that of Joseph O'Donnell, a
Menino intimate who owns land on the abutting Landsdowne St. and is a
partner with mall developer Steven Karp and Star Market's David Mugar.
That seems to explain the Mayor's high-handed insistence on forcing the
Red Sox to remain in the Fenway.
Apparently to further mollify Menino, the Red Sox have hired former BRA
chairman Robert Walsh as a consultant to accelerate the design and
construction of a Fenway-based Megaplex. For their own part, the Red Sox
publicly deny their intentions to develop a Megaplex concept.
Fenway Action Coalition Findings and Conclusions
* The Fenway/Audubon/Kenmore district is a densely populated residential
neighborhood. Construction of a 15 acre ballpark/hotel/retail/office
Megaplex is completely out of the question and not negotiable under any
circumstances. A Megaplex does not fit our vision of the kind of
community we want to live in and brings with it insurmountable negative
effects that can't be mitigated. The actual design is irrelevant. No
mall, no megaplex is even discussible.
* In the event the Red Sox decide to rebuild a ballfield on the current
site of Fenway Park and forego aspirations for an ancillary "Megaplex"
all access to the ballpark (except for player and staff parking) must be
by foot or via expanded public transportation systems. Parking lots and
gas stations must be removed from Boylston Street in order to implement
the "Kenmore Audubon Fenway Neighborhood Initiative" (KAFNI). Parking
bans in residential areas must be severely enforced. No new parking
facilities may be built that would encourage ballpark traffic.
* If the Red Sox cannot or will not erect a ballpark facility on the
site of the current Fenway location and require a Megaplex
"entertainment superstructure" for financial reasons, the club must
leave the Fenway. In that case, the Boston City Council should appoint a
Blue Ribbon Ballpark Site Selection Commission, that's above reproach
and free from all taint of cronyism. The Commission's job is to identify
a suitable vacant property, preferably with no residential abutters, to
accommodate a new Red Sox Megaplex.
Detailed Negotiating Posture
The currently contemplated Megaplex will sprawl along Boylston Street
over 8-10 blocks (15 acres). Such a complex is clearly inappropriate for
a densely populated, residential neighborhood. Traffic, parking, trash
and pollution problems generated by a Megaplex make this non-viable
under any circumstances for siting in the Fenway neighborhood.
On game days, all other activity throughout the Fenway, Audubon Circle
and much of Back Bay neighborhoods is strangled. Traffic remains
gridlock. Even if it were desirable, there is no physical space to
accommodate additional vehicles. Public transportation is maxed out at
capacity. Businesses suffer. Fenway game days are a nightmare for all
concerned, including baseball fans.
Furthermore, the Kenmore and Fenway neighborhoods are among the most
polluted in the Commonwealth and miserably fail EPA standards. A new
stadium that increases crowds nearly 50% will obviously make matters
Most importantly, however, a Megaplex project does not meet the Fenway
Community's vision of what this neighborhood can become. For decades
the Western End of Boylston St. has been an unsightly wasteland. When
the baseball season's over the honky-tonk atmosphere subsides into a
depressing blight. With a Megaplex much of that legacy will be replaced
by towering, impersonal structures, remote from community life. Such
commercialization is sure to jack up the costs of surrounding rental
housing and exacerbate all the problems listed above.
We residents of the Fenway community are determined to re-shape West
Boylston according to our image, not that of arrogant corporate
interlopers. The Fenway Park debate provides a once-in-a-century
opportunity to re-fashion the future of the entire Fenway neighborhood
and surrounding communities.
FOR THESE REASONS, AND OTHERS, A FENWAY MEGAPLEX IS NOT, UNDER ANY
CIRCUMSTANCES, ACCEPTABLE OR EVEN A NEGOTIABLE ITEM. WE'RE DRAWING THE
A) The only plan which is negotiable would be one to rebuild or restore
the current ballpark structure on its present dimensions with additional
seating capacity extended onto Landsdowne Street. Under certain
circumstances, a few additional structures might be acceptable to be
built on the current parking lot behind Boston Beer Works and the
Harvard Health Building, (i.e. between Brookline Avenue and beacon
Street): a "Miniplex solution". But that would have to approved by
Audubon Circle Community Association.
However, the following conditions would have to be met in exchange for
agreement from the community to an expanded stadium on the current
Fenway Park site and/or additional construction:
* Elimination of all parking lots and most of the gas stations along
Boylston Street, by swapping land between Brookline Ave and Beacon
Street (owned by the city and state) for the lots and gas stations on
* All Fenway Park access either by foot traffic or public rail
transportation. Since the Green line trolley operates from both ends at
capacity, a shuttle originating from South Station, running through Back
Bay Station and culminating at a Yawkey Station spur off the
Conrail/Amtrak lines seems imperative.
* There can be no parking in neighborhoods surrounding the current
Fenway Park – the only acceptable site for a ballfield-- for a radius of
20 blocks; stiff fines ($250) and towing for violations occurring on
game day, two hours before and two hours after a game for non-residents.
Special surcharges on parking within that radius during game day hours.
B) Implementation and funding of the KAFNI Plan, drafted by the Fenway
CDC a few years ago. KAFNI would convert Boylston Street into a
tree-lined "Main Street" boulevard, featuring low-rise a pedestrian
mall, mixed usages including affordable housing, non-chain retail,
gardens and public spaces.
The community is mindful of the need to enhance Boston's job market and
the tax base with economic development. In lieu of an entertainment
Megaplex, potentially acceptable high-end activity might include a small
Research or Industrial Park buffered from Boylston Street behind the
Harvard-Vanguard Health facility off Brookline Avenue.
Should they choose to abide by these guidelines and those listed below,
the Boston Red Sox, allied developers and state and local governments
would assume the costs for implementing KAFNI as part of an agreement
permitting expanded seating capacity. KAFNI will be designed to insulate
and screen Fenway Park and any other structures from Boylston Street and
the rest of the Fenway neighborhood. If anything, KAFNI might entail
narrowing Boylston Street.
C) Each year the Red Sox will deposit a sum sufficient for a community
group to hire
clean up crews throughout a 10 block radius of Fenway Park.
D) A formula of linkage funds will be calculated to support housing,
social services and public spaces (like greenery) in the Fenway area.
E) No subsidies, special tax breaks or other investments solely built
for the Boston Red Sox should be part of any stadium project no matter
where it's located.
F) ALTERNATE SITES
If it be true, as the Red Sox have argued, that a massive, Megaplex
"entertainment infrastructure" is necessary to finance construction of a
new ballfield, then a City Council appointed Blue Ribbon Baseball Siting
Commission must conduct a site search for a more appropriate location
elsewhere in the City.
Suggestions: a) build some sort of complex above the Allston rail yards;
b) at Roxbury Crossing; c) at the Cove Bay incinerator site; d) at the
former DEC/StrideRite site; e) or at the present location of the
Dorchester gas tanks if the tanks can be relocated. Any of these sites,
of course, being contingent on community approval of a new Red Sox
Clearly, the Sox would be very foolish to sink significant money into a
project without consultation with the community prior to any deals or
The Fenway neighborhood will not be bullied into accepting a project
that doesn't meet the guidelines spelled out above. In particular, the
Fenway Action Coalition has formulated a comprehensive legal and
political strategy to stymie any efforts to ram a Fenway Park Megaplex
down our throats.
Community mobilization is an essential component of a winning strategy
with raw numbers and emotion opposing a Megaplex Project in this
community. Civil disobedience has already been advocated by individuals.
However, that would be a tactic of last resort.
For now, focused community pressure and agitation will be pursued until
it proves to be a failing tack.