Why Does Fenway Park Feel So Empty This Season?

I’ve had season tickets since 2015 and every game I wiggle through large crowds to get to my seats. Even in their bad years Fenway Park always seemed packed. On a good day large crowds congregated on Lansdowne Street. Vendors peddle programs, peanuts, and t-shirts. It’s difficult to break through the crowds on these days. The chaos, however, Fenway Park feelis what makes going to Fenway so much fun. Lately though it feels like something’s missing. Entire sections of bleacher seats are vacant. There doesn’t seem to be as many vendors stationed outside the park. The 50/50 raffle drawing pot isn’t nearly what it was last season. So why does Fenway Park feel so empty this season?

For one thing the weather hasn’t been too cooperative. A rainout cancelled the first game of the series between the Red Sox and Yankees. Wednesday’s game made for a very wet and damp night. An unverified rumor claimed that Wednesday’s game saw the fewest fans between the two rivals in years. That’s uncharacteristic of a series between the two. But what are the other reasons?

You could argue that the absence of David Ortiz is keeping fans away. There’s no more Big Papi to root for. After he retired, fans weren’t left with anyone on the team to really cheer for. Sure, there’s players like Dustin Pedrioa but he doesn’t appeal to fans the way Ortiz did. While that might not be the entire reason, it’s difficult not to notice the differences in the crowds between this season and last. Another reason is that the Red Sox aren’t playing too well. The front office spent hundreds of millions of dollars on big-names and so far they’ve seen little return on their investment. It doesn’t help when Chris Sale strikes out ten but still loses the game due to a lack of run support.

Why Does Fenway Park Feel Empty? Don’t Worry, It Won’t Last Long

On a more rationale level though, it’s important to remember that the season is barely a month old. School’s still in session. The weather hasn’t leveled out yet. More fans should come when school gets out and the weather gets more consistent. But for the first time since moving here, I’m hearing more and more fans say out loud that they’re not going to pay for a ticket to watch the Red Sox lose when they can just stay at home and watch them for free. Fenway Park is one of the most expensive parks in baseball. Add bad weather and hitting to that and you got empty seats.

While I know the fanbase will grow as the weather gets warmer, it’s hard to shake the feeling that something is making Fenway Park feel empty. I hate seeing fans leave so early. I also hate seeing Lansdowne and Yawkey Way less crowded before games. But as Terrance Mann in Field of Dreams said, “People will come…People will most definitely come.”

Fenway Spring Signals Upcoming Season

Like most people in Boston, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the warmer spring weather. For some it means breaking out the grill, while for others it means putting the top down on the convertible. But for me, the warmer spring weather means that I can enjoy my walk from my home to Fenway Park. I love Fenway spring weather.

Most Red Sox fans can tell you their own personal stories about what Fenway Park means to them. After all, for many of us it’s a home away from home. As I walked down Fenway SpringYawkey Way the other day I found myself getting excited about the upcoming season. It made me realize that it won’t be long before I can begin the ritual I always follow when I go to a game at Fenway Park.

If there’s a night game, I usually leave my place around 5pm and walk to the park, about a half hour walk. I always wear a Red Sox jersey (usually either Carlton Fisk’s, or Xander Bogaerts’) along with red socks, red Chuck Taylors, and some kind of Sox t-shirt and hat (A little dorky, I know). I always take my baseball glove too, especially after a line drive almost beaned me in the face last May (they come in much faster than you might think). When I reach the park I first visit Demitri, a loyal employee of The Sausage Guy stationed on Lansdowne Street. At $3 a dog you can’t go wrong. After chatting it up with him for a little bit, I make my way towards Yawkey Way where, before I know it, I’m surrounded by other fervent Red Sox fans, many of who are probably carrying out their own pre-game rituals. I make my way to the Yawkey Way Store where I browse new items before heading to the back to see what former ballplayer is signing autographs that day. Who doesn’t love meeting someone who once played for the Red Sox?

As game time nears, I make my way to my seat on the first base line, but not before getting a beer from Sharon, a vendor I’ve gotten to know over the last year. Teaching is both our day jobs so we often swipe stories about lesson plans and students before I thank her and make my way to my seat. As I settle into my seat, I always make a point to look around and think about the history of the park. Fenway Park is a cathedral, and I’m one of its parishioners. It’s sacred ground and should be treated as such.

As it gets warmer out, it won’t be long before I get to do my ritual again. I can almost smell the hot dogs!