It’s an argument that is used by team owners in nearly every Major League baseball city: we need a new stadium to be competitive. Try telling that to baseball fans in Boston.
When team ownership announced plans to build a new ballpark in Boston in the 1990s, Red Sox fans were quick to point out that Fenway Park is an asset to the team and its city. Then new owner John Henry took over, and he listened to his team’s fans and embraced Fenway and its history. He made lots of fan-suggested improvements and added extra seating — even on top of the famed Green Monster in left field. “We are thrilled to announce,” he said, “that the Red Sox will remain at Fenway Park for generations to come.”
Despite playing in a ballpark that is 97 years old, the Boston Red Sox have won two of the last five World Series championships (2004 & 2007). Every game in Boston is a true sellout (not just tickets sold but actual patrons in the seats) and a ticket to Fenway Park, which opened on April 20, 1912, is considered the hardest to acquire in all of baseball.
Incidentally, Fenway Park and Detroit’s Navin Field (later Tiger Stadium) opened on the very same day. What a contrast between the Red Sox’ celebration of their stadium’s baseball history and Detroit’s near contempt for its. Fenway Park thrives in the 21st century as Tiger Stadium sits in a pile of rubble. The Red Sox sell guided tours of Fenway Park while Tiger Stadium had been padlocked since the Tigers left and has now been completely destroyed.
Tigers team owners from John Fetzer to Mike Ilitch have never understood the value of their ballpark the way Henry does. Remember Detroit Tigers President Bo Schembechler’s famous quote about Tiger Stadium back in the late 1980s? He said, “You can’t shackle us to a rusted girder and expect us to win.”
Try telling that to the fans in Boston.