Off Topic: Another Opening Day At Fenway Park

Today is the Red Sox home opener at Fenway Park. For those of you who are not in or from the Boston area, then you might not understanding the significance: This is a local holiday. It’s up there with Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Memorial Day, and our own Patriots Day (which has nothing to do with our football team). This year it will be an even bigger deal than normal; they’re handing out the World Series Championship rings.

I went to my first Red Sox opening day game last year, it was a great experience. But I was sadly unable to get tickets for this year’s event.

Given all of the hoopla, it’s a good time to ask: Why is Fenway Park so popular?

There are actually a lot of good reasons to stay away from Fenway Park:

  • It’s not cheap. The average cost for a family of 4 to go to Fenway Park is $320.71. It’s the most expensive park across Major League baseball and is nearly $130 above the national average of $191.75. 
  • Tickets aren’t easy to get. Thousands/millions of avid fans turn on their computers on the morning of the designated days that Red Sox tickets go on sale. We sit in front of our computers all day waiting in the “virtual waiting room” (VWR). Even after spending an entire day in the VWR, many people don’t get awarded the honor of buying tickets.
  • The seats aren’t comfortable. In just about every area of the park you are treated to seats that were designed for very little people. The seats are narrow and the rows are right on top of each other. Don’t even think about putting down your soda or beer.
  • The stadium is crowded. Many of the passageways at Fenway are narrow and can’t handle the foot traffic. Trying to go from the infield to the outfield on the first base side of the field is like trying to navigate through rush hour traffic on a Friday night. 
  • The views aren’t great. The park is full of seats that have some sort of obstructed view; from the poles in the grandstand to the walkway traffic that bothers the first few rows in the expensive Loge boxes. But maybe my favorite obstruction is in the right field box seats. All of those seats are angled towards center field (not the batter), so you need to turn your head and look over thousands of people to see the game.

All of these issues turn out to be completely irrelevant. Fenway Park is not about comfort or convenience; it’s about leaving the real world behind and entering into a fantasy world where the only thing that matters is a Red Sox victory. All of the problems or distractions in your life seem to magically disappear when you walk into Fenway and are immediately engulfed in the rich tradition of Yaz, Ted Williams, and David Ortiz. I still feel like a little kid everytime I walk into the park and get a glimpse of the Green Monster (maybe that’s why the seats are so small).

I’ll miss opening day, but I’ll be there Friday night rooting against the Yankees. I was one of the lucky ones in the VWR. Go Sox!

The bottom line: Fenway Park is more like a magical Disney experience than it is a wonderful baseball stadium.

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

One Response to Off Topic: Another Opening Day At Fenway Park

  1. bosoxgirl says:

    Sounds like a ballpark I would love to go to, Although I will probally never get the chance. I will have to stick to Spring Training games and maybe if I get lucky a Rays, Red Sox game in Tampa. But Fenway is on my to do list before I die. So there is some kind of hope.

    Nice post… I will be watching todays game on MLB.com from my desk at work.

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