Fenway Theater Proposed to Community, Past Season Discussed at Red Sox Neighborhood Meeting

rather large crowd gathered at the Wheels Up Clubhouse for a Red Sox community meeting on Oct. 1. The meeting was a place for the community to be updated on this year’s events and to ask questions and provide feedback.

Boston Police Department D-4 Captain Steven Sweeney told the community that issues that were addressed this season included: trash, public drinking issues and parking issues with the concerts that took place at Fenway Park. Sweeney said there could be up to 32 officers for a typical game and 50 for a concert, but that number was never really met because officers cannot be forced to work a game. He said that with the Red Sox heading into the playoffs, there will be 50 officers.

The Fenway Victory Gardens are still having issues. Sweeney said that they found lots of needles during their recent clean-up. A community member said that someone had recently broken into her garden and stole her umbrella. She said there’s still a huge homeless population in the Gardens, and bike theft is still a huge issue. She said she’s seen people selling the bikes right in front of her.

Another community member praised the new traffic direction and Sweeney’s engagement with the community, but someone else said that there should be more police presence near Commonwealth Avenue, Brookline Avenue, and Beacon Street when there’s something happening at Fenway Park.

David Friedman, Senior Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs for the Red Sox Foundation, discussed the Red Sox Neighborhood Affairs Mission, which includes “poviding outstanding entertainment and memories to more than 3 million people each year,” as well as “addressing impacts on neighborhood residents and businesses.”

Friedman said that over $50,000 cash was given to city programs within the Fenway neighborhood. He added that they are hoping to have the same number and type of events next year. He said that they will not double or triple the number of concerts, but they also do not want to have any fewer than this year.

As far as private events, Friedman said they hope to grow in that area. Right now, more than 300,000 people take tours of Fenway Park each year, but Friedman said they would like this number to grow.

The concerts were a major talking point for the community members in attendance. There was a question about what portion of the revenue do the concerts provide to the Red Sox owners. Friedman said that “compared to baseball, it’s a very very small fraction.”

He said that they are looking to file their annual application sometime soon for the 2019 concerts. He said they will probably do about the same number of concerts—this past year, they did 10 even though they were approved for 12.

There was a comment from a community member about how sound checks can be just as bad as concerts themselves, and said that the decibel level inside her apartment was 80.

“We’ll take whatever efforts we can to make sure the sound checks are not disruptive,” Friedman responded. He added that Yissel Guerrerro from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services has shared all 311 complaints with the licensing board this year.

There was also a comment about how well the concerts went this year. They were said to be organized and the trash was dealt with very well.

The proposed marijuana dispensary in the Fenway is on the minds of many, and a question was raised about how that might affect Fenway Park. Friedman said that the drug policy will not change in any way. “Our top goal is working with Captain Sweeney to make sure this place is safe,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, Friedman revealed the very preliminary plans for the proposed Fenway Theater. This theater would be a 5,000-seat, indoor performance art theater. They have not filed anything yet with the city or the Boston Planning and Development Agency. The theater would be behind the bleachers on the corner of Ipswich and Landsdowne Streets. Right now, that lot is being used for things like TV trucks and buses.

The purpose of this venue would be to bring in artists who can’t fill TD Garden or Fenway Park, Friedman said. He said they would be talking to some of the performing arts institutions in the area for possible collaborations and “civic things we will be thinking about.”

The theater would be fully enclosed; nothing would be able to be heard from the outside. It woulds also operate year-round, with 5,000 attendees several days a week. Friedman said that they will have to study traffic, transportation, and parking, as well as go through a process with city experts about the impact. He added that this venue is not intended to replace the Fenway Park concerts—“This would be a compliment with different kinds of acts at this point,” he said. They are also not looking to add parking for the theater at the moment.

Comments about this idea were mixed. One person thought this was a great idea because some people who work in restaurants in the area struggle in the winter when there’s less going on at Fenway Park, so this venue would bring in a lot of people to the restaurants.

Others thought that Fenway is already at capacity, and so is the green line, so bringing in 5,000 more people several times each week would just add fuel to the fire.

Another community member said that she would not support this idea if there was not a concession on the number of outdoor concerts.

“This is an entertainment district and I think it compliments all of the things that are already there,” said Pam Beale, a business owner in the Fenway. “It needs an identity, and I think the Red Sox are responsible owners.”

Others agreed with this sentiment, but said that traffic is still an issue that would need to be addressed first in order for the venue to function and benefit the entire community.

Friedman said that there is a possibility that they could file with the city in the next couple of months, but nothing is set in stone yet.

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