Tickets were still available less than 24 hours before Wednesday night’s soccer match at Fenway Park between two European soccer clubs you have never heard of before.
It is encouraging to see demand stagnate—even just a little bit—for such a contrived event.
Understand: this isn’t about the presence of a sport other than baseball being played at Fenway Park. (There’s probably been, like, other sporting events hosted at Fenway over the last 100 years or so…Someone oughta make a list.)
But the excessive whoring out of Fenway over the last five years speaks to a new sort of organizational arrogance that John Henry and Co. has established in the Back Bay. Even Scott Brown can see that the current ownership group routinely engages in thinly veiled prostitution of what should be treated as a sacred asset.
Thanks to the immense success, high revenues and national interest generated by their baseball team, these owners assume people should be willing to pay to witness just about anything that takes place on the hallowed Fenway grounds.
Piggybacking on the popularity of the 2010 World Cup, Wednesday night’s soccer match was aimed at striking before the sport’s popularity goes into hibernation for another four years. The only problem is that this particular pairing of two minor league soccer clubs would be like the Portland Sea Dogs taking batting practice in Wembley Stadium. It is an insult to fan intelligence disguised as something other than a recycled idea.
This isn’t a new trend by any means. Lately, the owners have been overplaying their hand when it comes to extracurricular entertainment. Fenway has gone from hosting hall-of-fame acts like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and the Rolling Stones to shows from the likes of Phish and Jimmy Buffet. At least there’s the local angle for next month’s Aerosmith / J. Geils Band bill.
Sure, all the aforementioned bands are washed up. But at least the first two carried some small semblance of Beatles in Shea Stadium cache. It’s just embarrassing when the outfield gets chewed up because the organization books some overrated act that peaked in the mid-1990s (Dave Matthews Band). In 2025, are we going to be watching commercials advertising “classic rock sensation” Kings of Leon: Live at Fenway Park?
Fine, it’s just a soccer match. The Red Sox owners certainly deserve every bit of praise they have received for all their renovations and updates that creatively keep a landmark alive and profitable, to boot.
Some of these extracurricular events at Fenway are a necessary evil in order to stay profitable. We should all tolerate the various “initiatives” that transform portions of Yawkey Way and its surroundings into a cross between a country fair and a de facto amusement park absent the Ferris Wheel (for now…). After all, Boston’s provincial vice-grip on the past will never come cheap.
One can’t help but wonder, though: How many blatant money-grabs are too many blatant money-grabs?
Even after his father reached ill health, Ted Williams’ son exploited his father’s legacy, imploring him to make appearance after appearance at various events, insisting he sign autographs for significant fees. It was a sickening revelation to many that was brought to light after the fact because his son’s selfishness before and after his father’s death was excessive enough that Ted’s well-being was undoubtedly jeopardized.
This space isn’t accusing the Henry ownership group of anything that perverse yet. After all, John Henry bagged a trophy wife all his own last summer. Some point soon, maybe he’ll be compelled to stop cultivating another.