Sox Reps Discuss Plans for Fenway Theatre, Bleacher Improvements

Representatives from the Boston Red Sox organization discussed plans for the proposed Fenway Theatre and bleacher improvements at the ballpark during a community meeting Tuesday evening at Fenway Park.

David Friedman, senior vice president of legal and government affairs for the Red Sox and special consul for the Red Sox Foundation, said the 5,000-seat theatre would be a joint venture with the operators of the adjacent House of Blues. It would have the same capacity as the outdoor Rockland Trust Pavilion and fulfill a demand in the local market for a similar-sized indoor concert venue.

The Fenway Theatre would be built adjoining the ballpark at Lansdowne and Ipswich streets, with the main entrance on Lansdowne, and brickwork would be extended along Lansdowne while the theatre would have a grey metallic design to distinguish it from the existing structure.

On the Ipswich Street side of the building, the existing brick façade would again be preserved and new space would be created to accommodate loading docks for the new theatre and the ballpark, Friedman said.

As part of the mitigation for the project, the theatre would partner with the Boston Arts Academy by contributing $500,000 to the school, as well as potentially offering internships and part-time jobs and students.

“It’s going to be a great partnership with a great school,” Friedman said.

Construction on the Fenway Theatre is expected to get underway after the end of the baseball season, with a projected opening in late 2021, Friedman said.

Ruth Bonsignore, a traffic consultant for the Red Sox organization, outlined planned street improvements associated with the proposed theatre.

In response to public input, Bonsignore said the sidewalk would be expanded on Lansdowne Street to 24 feet from 20 feet, and Ipswich Street to 20 feet from 12-13 feet, to allow more space for concert patrons to queue up.

The entrance of the theatre would also be pulled back to create a larger plaza at Lansdowne and Ipswich streets, Bonsignore said.

Bike lanes would be extended through the intersection, and a new bus shelter is also proposed as part of the project.

As part of its traffic-management efforts, Bonsignore said the Red Sox have also agreed to study the MBTA’s 55 bus line, which serves the area.

Also, Bonsignore said three pick-up and drop-off spots for ride-share programs  around the ballpark have been reduced to two with input from Uber and Lyft, and that the City and the Red Sox organization would continue to monitor them as part of this pilot program.

As for the planned bleacher improvements, Friedman said the top six rows, totaling 300 seats, would be removed to make way for accessible bathrooms and concession while a new function space with a 500-person capacity would be situated behind that area.

Friedman added that the function space, which would be open during games and other public events, as well for private functions, wouldn’t be a ticketed area, and that no additional tickets would be sold as a result of it opening.

The height of the bleacher area would be raised to a height comparable to that of the Sam Adams Deck as a result of the project.

“It’s our hope that construction will have started by the end of the baseball season, and we’ll have it finished by Opening Day,” Friedman said.

Meanwhile, Fenway Park’s upcoming concert season now includes performances by Phish on July 5 and 6; Zac Brown Band on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1; The Who on Sept. 13; and Billy Joel on Sept. 14.

“At this stage in June, we don’t expect to see any more concerts [announced],” Friedman said.

Besides concerts and Red Sox games, other events planned for Fenway Park include a match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC on July 20 and 21; the Run to Home Base, a charity roadrace to benefit Home Base –  a partnership between the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital that assist veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress (PTS), and related conditions – on July 27; the Latino Family Festival on Aug. 4; and the Spartan Race on Nov. 9-10.

A movie night is also planned for later in the summer.

Friedman dispelled rumors that Fenway Park would host college football games in the fall, but said management is presently exploring the idea of bringing a college football game to the ballpark on the same scale as a Notre Dame or Harvard-Yale game.

Claire Durant, director of business and government affairs for the Red Sox, said through the Neighborhood 9’s program, residents in zip codes surrounding the ballpark are eligible to purchase tickets for $9 a piece plus processing fees for up to four tickets each for five regular season games. So far this season 3,675 discounted tickets have been sold through the program, already exceeding last season’s 3,372 tickets, she added.

The next Red Sox Neighborhood Meeting is expected to take place in the fall.

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