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Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 11:12AM; Updated: Tuesday September 12, 2006 12:44PM
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Boston Red Sox
Fenway Park
Boston, Mass. :: Opened: 1912 :: Capacity: 36,108
Chuck Solomon/SI
Average Ticket Price: $46.46
Average Cost of Concessions and Souvenirs: $102.00
How expensive is stadium parking?
• FREE: 4%
• $5-$10: 1%
• $10-$15: 3%
• $15-$20: 13%
• More than $20: 77%

Is public transportation a viable option?
• Never: 2%
• Worth it if you have a lot of time and patience: 21%
• A good option to avoid rush hour: 12%
• Pretty easy if you know the system well: 35%
• The only way to go: 30%

How would you rate traffic getting to and from the game?
To the game:
• A slow-moving parking lot: 34%
• Slow, but usually steady: 36%
• Moves well outside of rush hour: 19%
• Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 11%
• A smooth ride at all times: 2%

From the game:
• A slow-moving parking lot: 41%
• Slow, but usually steady: 37%
• Moves well outside of rush hour: 10%
• Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 8%
• A smooth ride at all times: 2%

How would you rate the number of restrooms for men and women?
• Bring a map: 6%
It depends on the section: 26%
• Never more than a short walk away: 23%
• A satisfactory amount: 22%
• Plenty: 10%

How long is the wait to use a bathroom?
• Always available: 26%
• 1-5 minutes: 61%
• 5-10 minutes: 9%
• More than 10 minutes: 4%

How would you rate the variety of food/beer concession options?
• Limp hot dogs, bland peanuts, even blander beer: 6%
• Nothing fancy, but the staple foods are tasty: 16%
• A little variety of food and drinks available at specific locations: 30%
• A nice variety but locations are spread out: 26%
• You name it, they have it around almost every corner: 21%

How much will a meal at the ballpark cost you?
• $5-$10: 5%
• $10-$20: 48%
• $20-$30: 31%
• $30-$40: 7%
• More than $40: 8%

How would you rate the entertainment options aside from the game?
• Nonexistent: 24%
• So many games/promotions and scoreboard highlights that the game is lost in the background: 1%
• Typical mascot antics/scoreboard quizzes and fun music: 32%
• Some unique promotions/antics, but it sometimes distracts from the game: 4%
• A nice balance that draws your attention when the game is stopped but doesn't distract from the action on the field: 36%
As cliché as it sounds, Fenway is "one of baseball's true cathedrals, a must-see for every die-hard fan of the game." As with everything else in life, though, there are two sides to that story. On the one hand, there's the Green Monster, the manual on-field scoreboard, "crazy dimensions" and a sense of baseball history that "fills every idiosyncratic corner." However, that also means exorbitant prices, "seat space so tight it literally hurts to go to a game," viewing angles that test one's neck muscles and large support pillars that provide "at least a partially -- or worse -- obstructed view" for many, many fans. Under owner John Henry, the Sox have taken pains to "upgrade the ballpark without detracting from its historic significance." Seats above the Monster, a right field roof deck and a concourse filled with food under the right field grandstand have all been added in recent years. Most find the "mediocre" food "expensive at best." And that's to say nothing of "ridiculous" beer prices, running $6-$7 a cup. But why settle for the stadium food when Yawkey Way just outside the park offers some local flavor with a ragtime band to boot? Really, no one is coming here for the grub; they come for the quirks and to sit among a crowd "that follows every pitch as if it was a Game 7," even if that does foster "unrealistic" expectations. "If you appreciate the history of the game, this is your place; if you want to be comfy, the Fen's age shows clearly."
"Yawkey Way is crowded but has plenty of shopping, restaurants and pubs." The often-crowded Cask 'n' Flagon "is a must, and probably the best place to see the game when you can't sell a kidney to buy scalped tickets." Also packing them in on game days are Jillian's and Boston Beer Works, which "has a great selection of beer brewed on site." If you're looking for a "nice contrast of culture," the nearby Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum are good choices. While there is no lack of variety in dining options, "the prices at the ballpark and surrounding bars and restaurants will make a dent in your wallet." Nearby Kenmore Square, though, is good "for good cheap eats," especially if you're hungry for Indian or Chinese food.
2006 record: 76-67 (all statistics through Sept. 10)
Players worth the price of admission: Manny Ramirez (.318 Avg., 34 HRs, 101 RBIs), David Ortiz (.288 Avg., 48 HRs, 127 RBIs), Jonathan Papelbon (35 saves, 0.92 ERA).
Let's get this straight. Fenway is impossible to drive to, the seats are uncomfortable and/or obstructed and it costs a kidney -- or two -- to get in and eat. What, exactly, is the draw? Ah, yes, the history, the passion, the atmosphere of Fenway. But is that really worth more at Fenway than at any other park in the league? To the fans of Boston, who continually pack the place, it must be. And, truth be told, every student of the game should see the place at least once in his or her life. But to wring every last dollar from one of the majors' most loyal fan bases is not merely hard-nosed business, it borders on the unethical.