Actual Local’s Guide to Fenway Park

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Generally speaking, I love Yahoo!’s baseball blog, Big League Stew. It’s clever, it balances the line between “look here” blogging and hard news and stats, even deferring to the stat-nerd-Moneyballer fans like me when it can.

As part of the early season coverage, BLS has been dedicating time to each ballpark, and offering tips through it’s “Local’s Guide” series. Fenway Park got its due last week and, since for once I have intimate knowledge of the area around the park, I was excited to see which things were going to be properly depicted.

And then I was disappointed.

The local’s guide series is meant to breakdown everything from transportation to pre-game activities, where to get the best tickets and best haunts once the game ends. The problem is that the BLS guide for Fenway just takes the easy way out for all of these questions. Place to go before the game? Cask ‘n Flagon because that’s not a shocker! Transportation? Don’t get off at Fenway, get off at Kenmore always! Premium Seats? Green Monster!

Given that we’re actually in Boston and not a radio host from Maine, I did think it was important to offer some clarifications on how to do Fenway Park as an actual local.

Sox out to dry, Fenway

1. Transportation 

The author over at BLS points to the irony of the Fenway stop technically not being closer than Kenmore, which is accurate. However, there is more than one consideration to take into account when it comes to which stop to get off at. First, is where you are coming from – there is no reason to wait on the T one extra stop if you’re coming from downtown (or even take the T at all, but different discussion). However, if you’re coming from Newton, why wait through the extra time on the train and the more crowded Kenmore station for a .4 miles shorter walk through a bigger crowd? Also, pro tip, if you do need to leave your car somewhere in the ‘burbs, park it at Riverside or even at a metered spot in Newton Centre – that puts you on the faster, less congested D Line where you can hop right off at Fenway.

Point two: where you are going before the game needs to be taken into account. Yawkey Way is shut down during games, so if you want to go to any of the newer spots on Boylston, including Jerry Remy’s (or classics that don’t get mentioned, like Baseball Tavern), getting off at Kenmore means you have to walk the length of Lansdowne or almost all the way to the Fenway stop to get around the blocked alley. Similarly, because there is actually a scene in Kenmore Square itself, you’re going to get off at Kenmore no matter what if you’re hitting Eastern Standard, Lower Depths or other Kenmore spots.

2. Around the Stadium

This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but Fenway Park’s pre-game scene is more than just two of the three bars you can see from the main ticket office. Not only does Game On, right on that same corner as bars mentioned at BLS, offer a similar, bro-filled big spot like the Cask or Beer Works, there are also several joints worth checking out from Kenmore all the way to Jerry Remy’s on Boylston. Baseball Tavern, aforementioned, has an amazing roof deck. Lansdowne’s House of Blues patio is a solid option and Bleacher Bar (!) is a hidden gem due to smaller crowds and a view into the park through a garage door that is at ground level of center field. Let’s not forget a newer addition in the last year, Yard House, while a chain still has a big patio and lengthy beer list – that’s the first establishment you’ll get to coming from the Fenway stop.

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3. Inexpensive Seating IS Premium Seating

Inexpensive seating in Fenway Park often comes with the obstructed view warning or the fact that you know you’re 46 rows up in the bleachers (which comes with the worst part of Fenway, the guy starting the wave). The true secret is the standing room options on the roof decks and Green Monster. Regular seats on the Monster will cost you $165 before any fees. Standing room, with the same view, chance at a home run ball, ability to get a beer without fighting the crowd and atmosphere? $40. My new favorite way to go to a game.

4. The Tour Schedule Will Not Line Up With Your Plans

I’m all for the Fenway Park tour, I really am. Being in Fenway any moment is a happy time, and there’s something about the only buzz in the building coming from grounds crews and sprinklers. But, as this was apparently a guide for locals, I don’t know how the tour actually fits in to any local’s plans. Fact is that tours stop three hours before game time, so unless you’re planning on a long afternoon around the park, you really need to time things perfectly to get on that last tour.

Bruce at Fenway

5. Just as Much is Happening During Baseball Season as After

Bruce Springsteen’s tour came through last August, and summer concerts are lined up often through Sox summer road trips – not to mention the occasional football match. You are almost more likely to find a non-baseball event in the heat of the season rather than in the off months. Why? I don’t have an exact reason, but I’d venture a guess to say that it has to do with the amount of full-time employees for seasonal maintenance, concessions, security and grounds crews available. Sure, there’s hockey that happens in the winter, but outside of private events, you are going to see the bulk of the creative stuff on the outfield in the summer.

Then again, sometimes I just go over to Fenway in the winter and stare at it. So, who am I to be the one to tell you how local’s really do it.