By Beth Treffeisen
Over the summer, Fenway Park is a hopping place with Red Sox baseball games, fun events, and concerts. But, what can be fun for those visiting the historic ballpark can cause some unwanted activity and annoyance to those who live in the nearby residential neighborhood.
At the Fenway Boston Red Sox neighborhood meeting at the Wheels Up Clubhouse at Fenway Park on Tuesday, Nov. 14, residents shared their concerns of the plans to increase the amount of summer concerts from eight as they had in 2017 to between 10 and 12 in 2018.
“It feels like a real invasion,” exclaimed one Fenway resident saying it is one thing to deal with 81 Red Sox games during the season but another to have to deal with the concerts on top of them.
Last summer there where eight concerts with seven sold-out shows. Fenway Park hosted the first female headliner Lady Gaga and sold over 40 thousand tickets to residents who live within the Fenway neighborhood zip code.
This year’s schedule is not set in stone yet, but it’s noted that the band Dead and Company will not be returning. In years past, fans of the band caused issued within the community. The only concert scheduled so far this year is the Foo Fighters for two days in July.
“Our number one goal is to be an entertainment venue,” said David Friedman, senior vice president to legal and government affairs for the Red Sox. “We want people to have a fun experience and make memories that they can take home with them.”
Friedman also pointed out the economic benefits to the many businesses in the area including the nearby hotels, restaurants and shops. Last year, $4.9 million in revenue went to the businesses around Fenway Park.
But Friedman understood that concerts and more events have an impact on the immediate neighborhood. In the past complaints stemmed around scheduling, trash, parking and noise.
Friedman said that last year they made more of an effort to let residents know beforehand of any special events or even construction happening at the park.
For trash, the Red Sox have hired Project Place to clean up the neighborhood right after games and concerts and understands that parking is always a problem and supported the efforts to increase the fines for illegal parking during game nights.
In terms of addressing the noise issue, Friedman said that they have installed temporary sound-blocking panels that sit in the line of the Park Drive area. The 28-pound panels are an effort to stem some of the complaints that mostly have come from that part of the neighborhood.
“Without the panels, there would just be an empty space, and it would just be open to go directly to the neighborhood,” said Friedman. He said the other parts of the neighborhood have the new towers that line Boylston St., which act as a buffer.
Although residents appreciated the effort, some questioned if anyone was taking metrics and measuring the sound decibels during the concert.
Friedman said that he doesn’t have metrics because to his knowledge the City said they would do it. Police Sgt. James Freeman said that since the concerts all end before 11 p.m., there are no regulations for sound.
The Boston Noise Ordinance covers unreasonable sound from 11 p.m. to 7: a.m. in the morning, but could vary if the venue has a special license or permit with the City. The Red Sox need to gain City permission to host the concerts.
Out of the 60 or so concerts Fenway Park has held, the venue only got called once from a Boston Police officer for being too loud.
But for some neighbors, 11 p.m. is too late, especially for those trying to put kids to bed or enjoy a quiet evening in a nearby park.
“We are trying to be supportive neighbors as well,” said Marie Fukuda from the Fenway Civic Association. “But it is a question of balance and what works for everybody. Is it fair to say that means three weekends of events at Fenway Park and one weekend reserved for the residents?”
Friedman said that is definitely a ratio the Red Sox will keep in mind but it doesn’t mean each month will have that depending on scheduling.
Residents asked that beyond the security provided around Fenway Park, there be monitoring in the neighborhood. Since parking is hard to find, many buses ushering people to the park end up parking on nearby streets during events causing congestion and blocking roadways.
“There are a number of events, with crowds that come for the many ball games and concerts at Fenway Park,” said Dolly Boogdania,n a Fenway resident. “I understand the events at the ball park happen, but it’s all the stuff that comes with it like the illegal parking, trash, and loud sirens from emergency vehicles that get stuck in traffic that are the real problem.”
She continued, “These things get exemplified because they are effecting everyone here who lives in small intimidate community.”
Friedman responded saying, “We’ll definitely keep trying.”