Posts Tagged ‘Fenway Park’

Not Buying In: Manchester United Fans Boycott Sponsors, Send Message to Ownership

Sports fans are among the most loyal and intense people you can find.  How else to explain people showing up to support a team that hasn’t won a championship in over a century? (Looking at you, Cubs fans)

But just because sports fans are loyal doesn’t mean they always agree with every decision their favorite team makes. Case in point: Manchester United fans calling for a boycott of sponsors’ products to persuade ownership to rethink its plans of a shirt sponsorship deal with General Motors. United fans are reportedly unhappy about the British club’s association with an American company, preferring to keep the Red Devils in ties with local companies only.

Manchester United fans are loyal, but a boycott shows they have a mind of their own.

This isn’t the first time ManU fans have voiced displeasure with ownership over the club’s business. Malcolm Glazer, an American businessman who also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has owned United for almost 10 years but fell into $1.6 billion debt in 2010 stemming from loans related to their shopping mall businesses in the U.S. The Glazer family has not been popular with Manchester United fans, who have pressured Glazer to sell the team to a more interested and trustworthy owner.

Co-sponsorship deals often put fans in unusual situations. On the one hand, supporting a product or sponsor associated with a team generally means you are helping the business interest of your team. More money typically leads to more success. But some owners only care about the bottom line rather than results. So just because you put your money into sponsors doesn’t mean your favorite team will win more. In fact, it could send the wrong message to ownership that wins and losses don’t have an impact on revenue and income.

That’s what makes the boycott by ManU fans interesting. The message has been sent to ownership that club supporters will not be blind sheep and will not buy into everything the ownership tries to sell to them. Not seeing fans open their wallets is sure to get the attention of ownership and prompt change.

A similar scenario is unfolding in Boston. The Red Sox were purchased in 2003 by John Henry, a trading advisor who had previously held partial ownership of the Yankees and Marlins. Since Henry took over the club, the Sox have enjoyed remarkable success, winning two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 and enjoying the longest consecutive home sellout streak in U.S. sports history.

But all is not well in Red Sox Nation. Henry, since buying the Sox, has also obtained ownership of NESN, NASCAR teams, and most notably Liverpool FC, a major European soccer club. With multiple business interests, Henry’s time devoted to the Red Sox seems to have waned, as has on-field performance. The Sox have not won a playoff game since 2008, and last season endured a 7-20 month of September to miss the playoffs, one of the worst collapses in sports history. This season Boston is hovering at .500 but doesn’t have the look of a playoff team. All the while, the front office has remained quiet, save for an open letter of confidence sent to Sox fans by team president Larry Lucchino.

So what is a Sox fan to do? It seems clear the dual-ownership experiment is not working out at the moment, and many are calling for Henry and company to make a change. But the best way for Sox fans to get the attention of ownership is to do what United fans did and boycott the product. That means stop going to games (and break the sellout streak), stop watching games, stop buying merchandise, etc. When ownership sees numbers dipping, they know they will need a change. Asking this is a tough thing for Red Sox fans to do, however. Fans were rewarded for 86 years of faith with the 2004 championship, and even though the current club is treading water it remains within striking distance of a wild card spot. Besides, stopping support aimed at management change creates a negative impact on players, who have no say in ownership decisions.

Manchester United fans have made it clear they want change and have put their money where their mouths are. Unless things change quickly at Fenway Park, restless Red Sox fans may be taking a cue from restless Red Devils fans across the pond.

Photo (cc) by Paolo Camera and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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Marathon Means Money: Boston Marathon Helps City Revenue in Big Way

Monday marks the 116th running of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon. The event is one of the more popular events in Beantown, as it coincides with Patriots Day. With local schools closed and many residents given the day off from work, the race typically draws a big crowd along with the Red Sox annual 11 a.m. game at Fenway Park.

This year’s race looks like it will coincide with fantastic weather conditions, at least for the spectators. The temperature is expected to reach the high 80s, which has caused marathon organizers to caution inexperienced runners against participating for fear of heat-related complications. While the high heat isn’t the best thing for runners, it should help draw crowds along the street seeking sunshine.

In doing some quick research I was surprised to see just how much revenue the Marathon generates. According to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Monday’s race is expected to generate $137.5 million for the area. That is expected to be the second-largest revenue for the race behind only 1996 when the race field was expanded for the 100-year anniversary. This year, some 500,000 are expected to watch the roughly 27,000 participants navigate the 26.2-mile course.

The Visitors Bureau categorizes the revenue as follows: $92.4 million in money spent by athletes and guests, $16 million from fundraisers, $12 million by spectators, $10.1 million by sponsors and media and $7 million from the Boston Athletic Association. These figures have economists buzzing.

I always knew the race was big, however the $137.5 million tag really surprised me. Consider that this year’s NCAA Tournament Final Four in New Orleans drew $145 million for the Big Easy. The Final Four is undoubtedly a more popular sporting event, yet the numbers are very similar in the revenue column.

With all this business, it’s ready, set, go in Boston on Monday.

A Diamond is Forever: The Timeless Appeal of Fenway Park

Perhaps no city in America takes more pride in its sports teams than Boston, which turns professional athletes into local cult heroes. After all, there’s a reason Fenway Park is self-proclaimed as “America’s Most Beloved Ballpark.”

The view atop the Green Monster (Photo: Patrick McHugh)

Once described by author John Updike as a “lyric little bandbox,” Fenway Park opened on April 20, 1912, making it the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood, the park is home to the American League’s Boston Red Sox.

While each MLB stadium is different, Fenway Park stands out for its many unique quirks. The most striking is the 37-foot, 2-inch high wall in left field, appropriately dubbed the Green Monster. The 310-foot distance from home plate to left field is the shortest distance of any major league park, yet the height of the wall often turns would-be home runs into base hits. The Monster was erected to prevent baseballs from damaging automobiles at car dealerships across the street, and to prevent people in adjacent apartments from seeing games for free.

In 2003 the park added 278 seats stop the Monster, offering a picturesque view of the action for spectators.

“Every year when tickets go on sale the ones with the most demand are the Monster seats,” said Louis Noferi, a tour guide at the ballpark. “To allow as many people a chance to sit there, except Yankee fans, we have a raffle and you can only buy four tickets per season on the Monster.”

The right field wall also has its own lore. It is 302-feet from home plate to the foul pole, the shortest in baseball. Unlike any other park however, the wall abruptly curves outward and is 380-feet from home plate at its deepest. Former Red Sox great Johnny Pesky took advantage of the short fence in right field, collecting 13 of his 17 career home runs in right field. The pole is now named “Pesky’s Pole.”

(Photo: Patrick McHugh)

Unlike cookie-cutter modern ballparks, Fenway Park retains its own historic feel to it. There are still cement poles in the stands that obstruct views and there is a manual scoreboard at the bottom of the Monster that beckons a forgotten era. The 37,493 who cram into the park during games are still greeted by the wooden benches that have been there for over 80 years, creating a cozy environment.

“The seats are so close together that when you slide through the aisles, you’re nearly rubbing noses with the people in the row behind you,” Noferi said. “We’ve had more matches here than Match.com.”

From the press box behind home plate is a beautiful view of downtown Boston, and if you peer above right field you can see the recognizable Prudential Tower. The Massachusetts Turnpike is just behind left field, and it once was not unusual for baseballs that cleared the Monster to find their way onto the highway.

Still holding up strong in its 100th year in operation, Fenway Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in March of 2012.

  • Days and hours of operation: In-season tours run daily every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but end three hours prior to game time. Off-season tours run daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Cost: Adults – $12, Seniors – $11, Children (3-15) – $10
  • Website, phone number, emailhttp://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/ballpark/tour.jsp, 617-226-6666, tours@redsox.com
  • Address: 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA, 02215
  • Handicap-accessible: Yes
  • Nearest T stop: Kenmore Square Station, 0.3 miles (approximately a 7-minute walk)
  • Strange Fact: Former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and his wife Jean wanted to leave their mark on the park after their death. Along the Green Monster wall there are a series of black dots and dashes that spell out “TAY” and “JRY” in Morse code, the initials of the Yawkeys.