The Boston Red Sox and Boston Redevelopment Authority have agreed on a $7.34 million deal granting the Red Sox permanent ownership of and rights to the area surrounding Fenway Park in exchange for a connector road that the BRA will use in future planning of the Fenway neighborhood.
Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino said the exchange would benefit both parties by expanding Red Sox property with the addition of Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street for baseball fans. It would also increase the development of the Fenway neighborhood.
“This agreement is an example of a mutually beneficial public-private partnership,” Lucchino said in a Friday press release. “The Red Sox and our fans will have the advantage of continuing to use space essential to Fenway Park … and the city will receive a larger payment as well as the opportunity to create a new, public street that will serve as a catalyst for the Fenway neighborhood’s future development.”
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a Friday press release from the BRA that he is thrilled the Red Sox will continue to enhance the growth of Boston’s economy through visitor spending.
“At the end of this season as the Red Sox wrap up another winning year, it is great to know that they will continue to be a partner in growing our economy,” he said in the release. “They are a tremendous economic catalyst. Since 2003, they have paid more than $28 million in taxes to the city of Boston, and generated nearly $2 billion in visitor spending. We can only imagine the impact this will have as our partnership continues.”
The Red Sox will pay more than $4.8 million for 17,300 square feet of Yawkey Way about 120 days a year and more than $2.4 million for air rights above Lansdowne Street for Green Monster seats, according to the agreement.
In return, the BRA will pay more than $2.6 million for a 6,500 square foot easement to link Boylston Street and Van Ness Street along with Brookline Avenue in order to add re-development properties in the neighborhood, the agreement stated.
“The Boston Red Sox investment has spurred $2.2 billion of new private non-institutional investment in the Fenway neighborhood since 2002 and the BRA projects this trend to continue as their commitment to the Fenway Park improvements are now secure,” said BRA Director Peter Meade in the Friday press release.
Matthew A. Cahill, director of the Boston Finance Commission, objected to the deal in a letter to Menino on Tuesday that said granting the rights of Lansdowne Street and Yawkey Way is an attempt to give away public access rights without public notice, advertisement and use of public process.
Managers of Tasty Burger, a restaurant located at the corner of Yawkey Way and Boylston Street, said they could see a change in the amount of people coming into the establishment due to the deal.
Esau Reid, a manager at Tasty Burger, said he thinks closing off Yawkey Way may have a negative impact on business and ultimately change the surrounding area.
“I think it’s overall going to have a negative effect on the surrounding community and the people who are used to having that as an open street,” he said. “Even with traffic, if you close off that street, that’s a major throughway that people use to get places in the general area, so it just doesn’t seem like a good idea.”
Reid said he thinks the deal will make businesses reconsider their location.
“It probably will make people think twice about being in the area or supporting a decision that extensive, because again, you’re kind of singling out certain people that don’t have the accessibility to be in there,” he said. “It might cause a lot of change and probably not a lot of change for the better.”
Despite the inconvenience on businesses, some residents said the deal could benefit the Fenway neighborhood.
“I think the Boston land swap deal would be very good,” said Cody Lewis, 19, a resident of Boston. “There is always a lot of traffic in the middle of the city where I’m walking and I would like if there was another way for commuters. Ultimately, I think this is a good thing for Fenway.”
Annie Quinn, 21, resident of Back Bay, said Red Sox fans would react negatively to the change because of possible traffic.
“I feel like it will cause people to become more aggravated with going to and from the games because it would cause more traffic,” she said. “Maybe it would hurt ticket sales, because no one would want to deal with traffic.”