Red Sox Hold First In-Person Neighborhood Meeting

The Red Sox held its first in-person neighborhood meeting since the beginning of the pandemic on July 20, where neighbors gathered to enjoy some food and company before hearing some updates from the Red Sox.

Dave Friedman, Senior Vice President, Legal and Government Affairs for the Red Sox, and Government and Legal Affairs Assistant Sonya Bhabhalia were on hand to present the information and take questions from the residents.

Friedman talked a little bit about Red Sox security, following recent incidents with a fan at Yankee Stadium as well as the issue with the Washington Nationals. He said the Red Sox have “zero tolerance for racial sensitivity and hate speech,” and they work with a professional security team during games, as well as with Boston Police District 4 Captain Steven Sweeney.

The ballpark saw little to no activity last year due to the pandemic, and held no concerts or special events. Baseball began in July last year with no fans in the stands, but Fenway Park supported the community in various other ways, Bhabhalia said, including partnering with Councilor Kenzie Bok’s office to deliver produce boxes to residents, and turning Fenway Park into an early voting location as well as a mass vaccination site.

Fenway Park was also featured on John Krasinski’s YouTube show Some Good News, where healthcare workers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center were celebrated.

Bhabhalia also said that the Red Sox have been focused on social justice, and have been working “mostly internally” on bettering diversity and inclusion for things like training opportunities and working “more closely with minority businesses,” she said. Additionally, there are 10 different diversity and inclusion subcommittees with employees.

High school and college graduations were also held at the ballpark this spring, she reported.

Friedman spoke briefly about the Good Neighbor Agreement that many Fenway residents have been discussing and asking for.

He said that he believes this type of agreement is “not about negotiating a piece of paper. It’s about a process.”

Friedman referenced the Red Sox Annual Report, saying that “that’s our Good Neighbor Agreement; that’s our commitment to you.” He said the Red Sox remain open to questions, concerns, suggestions, and ideas, and urges residents to be in touch with those.

Friedman and Bhabhalia then talked about baseball this season, saying the Red Sox are in first place, and there have been some changes made to the ticketing process.

“Almost all of our ticketing is digital through the Ballpark app,” Bhabhalia said, and the Red Sox are using a “dynamic pricing” model, which means the prices are dependent on  things like supply and demand, the day of the week, opponent, weather, and more.

There are also a number of upcoming events at the ballpark, including a movie night on August 18, a Red Cross Blood Drive on September 11, and others coming later on in the fall. A schedule of these events can be found on the Red Sox website.

Summer concerts are on for this year, with seven currently scheduled to happen. There are “five shows in six days” in August, with two more in September and October.

“We hope to find a couple other concerts in September, October,” Friedman said, as it is a lot of effort to set up and break down the stage multiple times.

In response to a resident question about porta potties, Friedman said that there is no plan to have them around for concerts, as past feedback from city officials and neighbors indicated that there might not be a huge need for them.The resident who spoke said that “a lot of people are desperate,” especially with some stores and restaurants either closed altogether or closing their restrooms to the public .

“We are very aware that there are some neighborhood concerns” around the concerts, he said, adding that there are some things the Red Sox are doing to help mitigate some of the effects on residents who live around the ballpark. He said that although “complaints have come down over the years,” they do “keep close track of those.”

He said that the volume of the concerts is one of the things many residents have concerns about, and “heavy lead baffling curtains” have been installed in the Grandstand area to help with noise complaints from the Park Drive area. He added that concerts will end by 10:30pm.

Parking is also another major concern from residents, and he said that the Red Sox will pay the city for additional enforcement of the parking rules in the neighborhood when there are events at the park.

Friedman also said that trash cleanup, which is done in partnership with Project Place, will clean up the area right after the concert, instead of waiting until the next morning.

The feedback and complaint hotline is available to residents who are experiencing any issues related to events at Fenway Park. The number is 617-226-6000.

Bhabhalia also talked briefly about some other projects going on in the area, including the construction of the MGM Music Hall. She said that the steel frame has been completed and a topping-off ceremony has been held.

She said that the Route 55 bus study is “on hold” as the team does not feel studying a bus route that is not currently operating at full service is the best way to move froward. She said the Red Sox hopes that full service on the line will be restored.

Friedman also spoke about the Fenway Development project led by WS Development. The Red Sox is an “active partner” in this project, but not the lead. The project was not discussed at this meeting because “everyone has lots of opportunity to review it” through the city process, which is happening now.

Lastly, Friedman spoke about sports betting legislation in the state, and said that the Red Sox is in support of legalizing sports betting. He said it should be done in a “tasteful way,” and wouldn’t want Fenway Park or the surrounding area “to feel like a casino.”

For residents with further concerns or questions about goings-on at Fenway Park, Bhabhalia can be reached [email protected], and Friedman can be reached at [email protected] The Fenway Park event schedule can be found at mlb.com/redsox/fans/government-affairs.

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