The Red Sox moved to Fenway Park from the old Huntington Avenue Grounds. In 1911, owner John I. Taylor purchased the land bordered by Brookline Avenue, Jersey Street, Van Ness Street and Lansdowne Street and developed it into a larger baseball stadium.
Taylor claimed the name Fenway Park came from its location in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston, which was partially created late in the nineteenth century by filling in marshland or "fens", to create the Back Bay Fens urban park. However, given that Taylor's family also owned the Fenway Realty Company, the promotional value of the naming at the time has been cited as well. Like many classic ballparks, Fenway Park was constructed on an asymmetrical block, with consequent asymmetry in its field dimensions. The General Contractor was the Charles Logue Building Company.
The first game was played April 20, 1912, with mayor John F. Fitzgerald throwing out the first pitch and Boston defeating the New York Highlanders, 7-6 in 11 innings. Newspaper coverage of the opening was overshadowed by continuing coverage of the Titanic sinking a few days earlier.
Fenway Park has historically drawn low attendance, its lowest occurring late in the 1965 season with two games having paid attendance under 500 spectators. Its attendance has risen since the Red Sox' 1967 "Impossible Dream" season, and on September 8, 2008, with a game versus the Tampa Bay Rays, Fenway Park broke the all-time Major League record for consecutive sellouts with 456, surpassing the record previously held by Jacobs Field in Cleveland. On Wednesday, June 17, 2009, the park celebrated its 500th consecutive Red Sox sellout. According to WBZ-TV, the team joined three NBA teams which achieved 500 consecutive home sellouts. The sellout streak ended on April 11, 2013; in all the Red Sox sold out 794 regular season games and an additional 26 postseason games during this streak.
The park's address was originally 24 Jersey Street. In 1977, the section of Jersey Street nearest the park was renamed Yawkey Way in honor of longtime Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, and the park's address was 4 Yawkey Way until 2018, when the street's name was reverted to Jersey Street. The address is now 4 Jersey Street.
Changes to Fenway Park
The old wooden seats of Fenway's Grandstand section.
Some of the changes include:
- In 1934, a hand-operated scoreboard was added, with what was then considered high-technology- lights to indicate balls and strikes. The scoreboard is still updated by hand today from behind the wall. The National League scores were removed in 1976, but restored in 2003 and still require manual updates from on the field.
- In 1946, upper deck seats were installed; Fenway Park is essentially the first double-tiered ballpark in Boston since the South End Grounds of the 1880s.
- In 1947, arc lights were installed at Fenway Park. The Boston Red Sox were the third-to-last team out of 16 major league teams to have lights in their home park.
- In 1976, metric distances were added to the conventionally stated distances because it was thought at the time that the United States would adopt the metric system. Today, only Toronto's Rogers Centre lists metric distances. Fenway Park retained the metric measurements until mid-season 2002, when they were painted over. Also, Fenway's first message board was added over the center field bleachers.
- In 1988, a glass-protected seating area behind home plate named The 600 Club was built. After Ted Williams' death in 2002, it was renamed the .406 Club in honor of his 1941 season in which he produced a .406 batting average. The section was renamed again in 2006 to the EMC Club.
- In 1999 the auxiliary press boxes were added on top of the roof boxes along the first and third base sides of the field.
- In 2000, a new video display from Daktronics, measuring 23 feet (7.0 m) high by 30 feet (9.1 m) wide, was added in center field.
- Before the 2003 season, seats were added to the Green Monster.
- Before the 2004 season, seats were added to the right field roof, above the grandstand, called the Budweiser Right Field Roof.
- Before the 2008 season, the Coke bottles, installed in 1997, were removed to return the light towers to their original state. The temporary luxury boxes installed for the 1999 All-Star Game were removed and permanent ones were added to the State Street Pavilion level. Seats were also added down the left field line called the Coca-Cola Party-Deck.
- Before the 2011 season, three new scoreboards beyond right-center field were installed: a 38-by-100-foot scoreboard in right-center field, a 17-by-100-foot video screen in center field, a 16-by-30-foot video board in right field, along with a new video control room. The Gate D concourse has undergone a complete remodel with new concession stands and improved pedestrian flow. The wooden grandstand seats were all removed to allow the completion of the waterproofing of the seating bowl and completely refurbished upon re-installation.
New Fenway Park
Patch worn by Red Sox to celebrate 100 years at Fenway Park
On May 15, 1999, then Red Sox CEO John Harrington announced plans for a new Fenway Park to be built near the existing structure. It was to have seated 44,130 and would have been a modernized replica of the current Fenway Park, with the same field dimensions except for a shorter right field and reduced foul territory. Some sections of the existing ballpark were to be preserved (mainly the original Green Monster and the third base side of the park) as part of the overall new layout. Most of the current stadium was to be demolished to make room for new development, with one section remaining to house a baseball museum and public park. The proposal was highly controversial; it projected that the park had less than 15 years of usable life, would require hundreds of millions of dollars of public investment, and was later revealed to be part of a scheme by current ownership to increase the marketable value of the team as they were ready to sell. Several groups (such as "Save Fenway Park") formed in an attempt to block the move. Discussion took place for several years regarding the new stadium proposal. One plan involved building a "Sports Megaplex" in South Boston, where a new Fenway would be located next to a new stadium for the New England Patriots. The Patriots ultimately built Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, their home throughout most of their history, which ended the Megaplex proposal. The Red Sox and the city of Boston failed to reach an agreement on building the new stadium, and in 2005, the Red Sox ownership group announced that the team would stay at Fenway Park indefinitely. The stadium has since been renovated, and will remain usable until as late as 2061.