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Fenway Park gets a makeover ahead of new season

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People line up for tickets at Fenway Park. The Red Sox welcomed fans back for the first full capacity home opener game since 2019 on April 15, with improvements to the stadium’s infrastructure and changes to game day experiences – such as cashless payment. JASMINE LI/DFP FILE

The Boston Red Sox played their first home game of the 2022 MLB season at Fenway Park Friday where fans were greeted with improvements to the stadium’s infrastructure and gameday experience.

According to an April 13 press release, the stadium has “transitioned to a fully cashless environment” this season and fans must use a credit or debit card for payment. Fans can exchange their cash with a Mastercard debit card by using the Cash-2-Card exchange kiosks. 

While hawkers are equipped with cashless point-of-sale devices to facilitate cashless payments when selling food and beverages at the stands, they are still accepting cash payments from fans. 

Massachusetts Attorney General candidate Shannon Liss-Riordan has raised concerns over the transition to cashless payments at Fenway, arguing that the Red Sox could violate a part of Massachusetts State Law that states “no retail establishment offering goods and services for sale shall discriminate against a cash buyer by requiring the use of credit by a buyer in order to purchase such goods and services.” 

An experienced hawker at Fenway Park — who chose to remain anonymous — said the new cashless system has slowed down the sale of snacks at the park, causing long queues at concessions stands and slower service from hawkers.

While cash transactions can be completed in seconds and allow for multiple transactions simultaneously, each card transaction requires a hawker to pull up the right product and input various data before passing the machine over to the customer, the hawker said. 

“There’s nothing about [card transactions] that could be as fast as cash,” the hawker said.

The hawker also noted other difficulties implementing the cashless system, such as spotty Wi-Fi signals throughout the stadium that affect the card processors. 

“If we were completely cashless, sales would have dropped a lot,” he added. 

However, the hawker said he believes both methods of payment should be accepted.

Meanwhile, visitors and fans said they welcomed the move to go cashless. 

Leon Goodwin, a Needham resident who was visiting the stadium with his son, bought ice cream, hot dogs and peanuts from hawkers during his time at the game. 

“Actually, [the cashless system] seemed like it sped up the lines a little bit,” Goodwin said.

Cameron Potts — a resident of Dallas, Texas who was present at Monday’s Red Sox game — said the new policy made the exchange of money less complicated. 

“We had to hand money all the way [to the hawker], so it’s just easier to hand the card,” Potts said. 

Other renovations made to Fenway Park during the offseason include a new 8,800-square-foot open-air concourse, a new pre and post game studio, a 7,600-square-foot indoor event space and a new video board.  

The larger size of the video board —  62-feet-wide and 16-feet-tall — allows the Red Sox to include additional information for fans such as the name of the walk-up song being played, team lineups and batter statistics. 

Mike Consiglio, a Walpole resident, said he noticed the bigger video board during his first trip to Fenway Park this season. 

“The new one seems to be like a massive screen that can split up into tiny screens, so it’s way better quality than the old ones,” Consiglio said. 

Consiglio said he has seen various improvements made to the stadium over the years.

“You have to update it somehow to stay with the times so it still has a nice touch of tradition,” Consiglio added. 

Having visited newer, modern stadiums across the country, Goodwin said he believes there is a charm to older, historic stadiums such as Fenway Park. 

“I’m sure that you could make lots of improvements to make it a better stadium objectively,” Goodwin said. “But I think I would lean towards tradition over changes to make it more modern.” 

The Red Sox did not respond to requests for comment.

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