Fenway as Boston’s Function Room: Everything Other Than Baseball

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When the Red Sox once referred to Fenway as its Chapel, it was a metaphor.

During Saturday’s mass celebrating the 150th anniversary of Boston College and Boston College High School, it was literal. It was a great event (then again, a Jesuit Education Love-Fest in Fenway Park is pretty much a Matt Nathanson performance short of describing the last 15 years of my life), and actually not the first time Fenway doubled as a place of religious worship.

As I was waiting for mass to begin, I realized that what is sometimes thought to be just a sacred space for baseball has become a go-to multipurpose function room that the city uses for everything. Even if the ceremony over the weekend recognized something that is near and dear to me, perhaps we have gone too far when it comes to the gimmick of being America’s Most Beloved Ballpark-Concert Hall-Soccer Pitch-Cathedral.

As of last weekend, there have been, by my count, four non-baseball stagings that have been built over parts of the Fenway field itself in just this calendar year: the aforementioned mass, two rounds of concerts (Roger Waters and Bruce Springsteen), Liverpool’s friendly pre-campaign match with AS Roma and what felt like nineteen separate hockey games between local colleges and high schools. That’s a lot of overtime for the operations crew – almost all of this has additionally gone on during the season that has had its own fair share of on-field orchestrations as part of the 100th anniversary of Fenway.

Honestly, save for putting up some hardwood for college hoops or trotting out a football field for Boston College (the Pats would never do it, please; nor would Harvard-Yale), we’ve touched on really everything.

Has the nostalgia worn off yet? Or do we keep going?

Concerts, I think we can continue to expect, and with John Henry’s involvement and local support for Liverpool, the game is incredibly likely to be a regular trip for the club every few years. I also kind of like the idea of big, notable events (biases aside) for things like Boston College and Boston College High School. The park has a history of hosting presidents and other major events, and if they mean something to Boston, have at it. Trust me, this one is worthy: if you don’t think there’s a correlation between the Irish workers who built the place and the origins and reason for those schools existing, I beg of you to reconsider.

The only one I thought was a little, “Ah, ok, it worked last time, even if we don’t have an NHL team involved let’s do it anyway” was the rejuvenation of Frozen Fenway. Look, it was a gorgeous afternoon and the park does look great when you lay the ice down. But let’s be honest – is there a sight line to even enjoy the game going on? Or is that not even the point? This one just felt like, “The Bruins played, BC and BU played. Well, I guess we should squeeze in the opportunity for the other big hockey schools in New England and UMass so they can try it.” “Ok, let’s put BC back in anyway.”

It’ll happen again – there’s too much non-use of a facility that you can clearly make money in when you’re bored. I can gamble that it’ll never be country music, but I think it’s a safe bet that the next modern activity to happen will likely be the return of football – something that hasn’t happened since the Patriots moved to Foxborough.

You better believe I’ll get my ticket stamped for that one, too. Might as well, right?