boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe
DOWNTOWN

Sox make their pitch

What do the Red Sox want?

A closer who could actually throw the ball past someone in the ninth inning would be nice as August turns into September, and the Yankees creep ever closer in the rear-view mirror. But what they really want is going to be much, much more expensive than another overpriced relief pitcher.

Red Sox management is starting to move around town in a serious way as they make plans to stay in Fenway Park for the long haul. Unlike the previous ownership, John Henry & Co. have worked overtime building bridges to the community. But the Sox, with the muscle that comes with a world championship, are making rival developers nervous. Local politicians, city and state, should be guarding the public's wallet as well. (Is this where I mention that The New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, is a part owner of the Red Sox?)

The Sox agenda is starting to come into focus. This evening, the Kenmore Association, a business group fronting for Sox management, will make its recommendations for ''infrastructure" improvements in the Fenway area. Among the key recommendations in its report:

A Yawkey station ''multimodal transportation center." This would expand Yawkey station into a full-fledged commuter station on air rights on so-called Parcel 7 over the Massachusetts Turnpike and include a new parking garage and ''compatible mixed-use development on the site." Who do you think might want those valuable air rights? The plan also calls for more modest improvements at Fenway station on the Green Line.

Turnpike air-rights development of parcels 7, 8, 9, and 10. The report calls for ''coordinating new mixed-used development" on Beacon Street, Brookline Avenue, and Lansdowne Street -- that's you, John Rosenthal, frustrated developer, they're talking about -- and building replacement parking on turnpike air rights. ''The new garages, in part, would replace existing area parking that is planned for redevelopment," the report suggests. (Note ''garages" plural.)

Improvements at the Sears rotary to ease traffic and an engineering assessment of the ''aging" Bowker Overpass, which links Storrow Drive with the Charlesgate/Fens area.

Pam Beale, president of the Kenmore Association, didn't return my calls. The Sox chief architect, Janet Marie Smith, said the study was initiated by the business group, but the team was very much behind improving transportation in the area.

The Red Sox' faultless renovation of Fenway Park, not to mention their world championship, have earned them considerable community capital. But now comes the dicey part as they try to extend their control beyond the bounds of ballpark into the neighborhood. The devil, as always, is in the details.

There is the matter, of course, of who will pay. Former Sox owner John Harrington, for all his ineptness, did get a $100 million infrastructure package through the Legislature. The new owners feel they are very much entitled to all or part of that money, and have their lobbyists working hard at the State House. The strategy of the Sox and Boston University is to push the needs of the community and the hospitals, and hop on board.

Also worth watching: the potential conflict between developers like Steve Samuels, who are buying up properties at high prices, and the Red Sox, who are anxious about tall buildings hovering over the park and an influx of new residents who might not be so crazy about a Stones concert on their doorstep. The Sox are buying properties themselves and seeking to have Fenway designated a national landmark. Community groups and developers worry that the Sox may try to undo the area's new zoning, which took years to put together.

We're only in about the sixth inning of the effort to reshape Fenway Park and the neighborhood around it. But as any baseball fan knows, this when the game matters most.

Steve Bailey is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at bailey@globe.com or at 617-929-2902.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES
 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives