by Matthew Taylor
A very interesting, timely story from Sports Illustrated, “The changing face of the sports fan,” relates the rise of bandwagon fans at Fenway with a construction boon facilitated by the opening of Camden Yards.
If you’ve recently heard a native Bostonian lament “Fenway isn’t Fenway anymore,” you’re not alone. Though the charming 96-year-old edifice has survived amid rumors of a Yankee Stadium-type reconstruction (and yes, the prospective blueprint, abandoned in 2005, included twice as many luxury boxes), the atmosphere nowadays still seems palpably different from a decade ago. Less authentic, even.
At Fenway — as elsewhere around the country — surging ticket prices and the team’s success have seemingly drained institutional memory, bringing in wealthier fair-weather fans and ushering out the diehards. The addition of Green Monster seats in 2005 was an endearing gesture, to be sure, but it also created some of the priciest tickets in the house. That’s no accident: Ever since Baltimore’s Camden Yards ignited the stadium-building revolution in 1992, the architectural designs of arenas have precisely targeted a demographic that wears pinstripes — and not the ones on a replica jersey.
The Sun has tackled this specific topic before: “The influx of those Washington-area fans, though, has contributed to the perception that Camden Yards ushered in the era of the cell phone-toting, three-piece-suited “fan” who goes to the park because it’s the place to go.”
The full SI story, which deals with the overall economics of sports, is worth reading beyond the O’s connection.