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This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

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Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

GREG GALER

Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

The Unsung Heroes Who Saved Fenway Park

April 1st, 2012  |  Posted by: Sarah Kelly

An Evening at Fenway / Photo credit: Sarah Kelly

Fenway Park is a little lyrical bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus like the inside of an old fashioned Easter Egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934 and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between man’s Euclidean determinations and nature’s beguiling irregularities.

– John Updike , “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu,” New Yorker, 1960

The centennial celebrations for Fenway Park have begun! A Special Section in today’s Boston Globe features all things Fenway in honor of the ballpark that has captivated the hearts of Bostonians, and visitors from around the world, for 100 years.

It’s a beautiful issue that covers great moments for the ballpark, praise for its many distinctive features, and reflections from notable Bostonians on what makes it so magical. But there is a story that the issue does not tell; it is the story of the ballpark that almost wasn’t and the regular people, under the banner of “Save Fenway Park!“, who fought hard against all odds to stop Fenway Park’s demolition.

Flashback to the mid 1990s. A new Fenway Park was planned. The 1912 ballpark was slated for demolition. Civic and business leaders lined up to support bulldozing the existing ballpark and the building a shiny new one next door. Local media published countless articles with headlines like “A new and better Fenway Park” and “New Fenway Park is a good investment for all.” Fenway Park had lost its sheen. Its seats were too cramped and its stands were too grimy. It wasn’t living up to the standards of the newer ballparks that were cropping up across the nation. And it just seemed too small to bring in the revenue that the ownership needed to keep it up.

But something wasn’t sitting right with Red Sox Nation, and a small group of concerned citizens decided to speak out about it. They believed that Fenway Park was forever intertwined with the legacy of the Red Sox as well as Boston itself, making it an invaluable landmark for the city. What made it challenging was also what made it special. Its irregular angles, its intimacy, its funny green wall. So they launched a campaign, using whatever platform they could find to call attention to their cause. Before long they had thousands of supporters. And when the new ownership took over in 2002 the tide of opinion miraculously turned. The new owners committed to investing in renovations and improvements to the ballpark, fixing its problems while retaining what made it so beloved. Fenway Park had been saved.

This Wednesday night, April 4, the Alliance will host our annual Gala & Auction at Fenway Park in honor of its 100th Anniversary. Some of our old friends from Save Fenway Park! will be there, and we can’t wait to recognize them, alongside the current ownership and others who believed in the little ballpark with an immeasurable spirit.

 

2 Responses

  1. Kim Konrad Alvarez says:

    BPA, what a wonderful flash back summary — indeed with 15 years behind us, memories are faint for many on how close we came to losing Fenway Park and how with every turn the deck seemed stacked against us “tree-hugging wussies” (or so we were called in the Globe). SFP! was the little engine that kept on keeping on. We are forever indebted to the BPA for giving birth to this grassroots efforts and supporting us every step of the way. This is a year truly worth celebrating.

  2. [...] in Anytown, USA, I was worried. Luckily, a group came along to help change the discussion–Save Fenway Park. This grassroots effort really helped get the ball rolling on changing the conversation, and I [...]

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