Have a baseball road trip coming up? Well, in a bid to help you with your upcoming journeys, Big League Stew has solicited the help of the locals. Over the next month or so, we'll be hitting up our usual guest blogger crew to feature 10 tips for enjoying each of the 30 ballparks like the locals do. Have a suggestion in addition to the ones listed here? Make sure to list it in the comments below.
Up next is our good friend Chris Sedenka, a sports talk radio host in New England and the guy who covers the Red Sox for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He's here to guide you through a trip to one of the most stories parks in baseball history.
Fenway Park can be described in one word … classic. The ballpark is in its 101st year of existence and still has the charm it had back in the early days. The neighborhood feel is a refreshing change from newer stadiums that are full of bells and whistles. Fenway Park is a basic stadium where the history is its most attractive feature.
So how do you best enjoy a trip back in time? Here are 10 tips before you set out ...
1. Transportation: Here’s a hint…DON’T DRIVE! Fenway Park is a city stadium and it's 101 years old. This means it wasn’t built for 30,000 spectators to all show up in vehicles. The chance of finding an adequate parking space in Fenway or Kenmore Square is about the same as winning the lottery. Sure, there are a few parking lots if you get there early enough or want to spend a ridiculous amount of money. There is even some street parking around the Boston University area, but it’s just not worth the hassle. There is public transportation for a reason. Here’s a tip. Take the Kenmore stop. Sounds confusing, but Kenmore is actually much closer to the park than the actual Fenway subway stop.
2. Around the stadium: There is an abundance of restaurants and bars around Fenway that can be utilized for pregame festivities. The Cask ‘n Flagon and Boston Beer Works are two of the more popular spots near the park. However, Jerry Remy’s is another spot that has increased in popularity through the years. It’s owned by former Red Sox player turned TV analyst, Jerry Remy, who has become quite the icon in Boston. He has a number of restaurants in the city, and the one by the stadium is a great spot for before and after the game. There are a number of other places, all of them decent choices if you are looking for pregame entertainment with other fans.
3. Yawkey Way: Another great spot to visit is Yawkey Way, which is called an extension of the ballpark. Located adjacent to Fenway, Yawkey Way has great vendors, music, and stores to check out. It really gives you a true sense of Red Sox baseball and their fans. You might be able to find some tickets to the game at a decent price as well.
4. Inside the Park: Bells and whistles? Not at Fenway. Essentially it is an old beautiful rust bucket. It’s a ton of green concrete with large posts and narrow walkways. Again, something that is not unusual for an ancient ballpark. However, I would suggest walking the concourse. It’s a great way to see all the different angles of Fenway, as well as the retired numbers wall, the team store, and autograph alley, where former players are frequently hanging out to meet with fans.
5. Inexpensive Seating: There are plenty of options in this department. But since it is an old ballpark, be careful of the obstructed view seats. There are certain locations around the park that will force you to watch a majority of the game from a monitor. The most obscure obstructed view has to be right behind the right field foul pole. Yes, there is the possibility of watching an entire game and just seeing right fielders. If you want a guide to where the obstructed view seats are at Fenway, check out PreciseSeating.com as a resource.
The bleachers are an affordable option, and are perfectly adequate. Sure, the cheap seats aren’t the most comfortable, but the stadium is small enough so that you never feel like you’re a mile away from the action.
6. Premium seating: The Green Monster Seats are certainly recommended. There’s not a more unique seat in the majors (other than maybe the pool seats in Arizona). The view is incredible and the action is usually wild, especially when the wind is blowing out of the park. There are also concessions on the wall, which makes it easy to grab food and drink.
The State Street Pavilion is also fantastic. It’s the upper deck at Fenway that includes wider seats (a major plus, considering most Fenway seats are small for a 10 year old), in-seat service, very accessible facilities, early entrance, and a clubroom with a full bar and sit-down dining options. The views are spectacular, Boston’s skyline included.
7. Food and drink: Nothing is going to blow you away. Of course there’s the Fenway Frank, a classic hot dog. It tastes decent enough, especially when they are two-for-one. But outside of the buffet at the club level, there’s nothing else really to point out.
The good news is that there's plenty of craft beer available around the ballpark, especially in the club levels. Wachusett, Magic Hat, Cisco and Smuttynose can all be found in and around Fenway. The park is full of run of the mill domestics that so many people yearn for as well.
The clubroom also has mixed drinks, which actually aren’t too hard on the wallet. A highball will run you nine dollars … speaking from experience.
8. After the game: The best bet is to roll right back to the bars where you enjoyed the pregame. They will all be packed, with great specials for partying the night away, whether or not the Sox win. If you are looking for something away from Fenway, hop on the subway and head downtown. It’s a cheap and easy ride. Enjoy.
9. Take the tour: If you have the time it’s well worth it, and is available on game day. The one-hour tour will take you through the entire park and includes getting up on the Green Monster, seeing the Red Sox player plaques and Pesky’s Pole, and much much more. It’s a great way to see the park in a much more intimate setting.
10. Outside of baseball season: One major change the current ownership group has made is to make Fenway accessible all year round. The park attracts top acts like Bruce Springsteen and Aerosmith. There are a handful of options every single calendar year. Special sporting events are a can’t-miss at the park as well. Whether it’s an outdoor college hockey game or a soccer match, theirs is nothing more unique than seeing non-baseball at the oldest baseball park. The Red Sox also host many family events during the holiday seasons that usually draw incredible crowds.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox.You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, Maine or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League. You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
Previous parks: Citi Field, Marlins Park, Great American Ball Park, Petco Park,Comerica Park, Progressive Park, AT&T Park, Rogers Centre, Wrigley Field, O.Co Coliseum, Yankee Stadium, Coors Field, Minute Maid Park, Fenway Park