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Alarm sounded on fans running late

Trend of late arrivals at Fenway is troubling

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / June 7, 2012
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There’s been a trend at Fenway Park recently and I’m not sure it’s a flattering one.

Why aren’t people in their seats at game time anymore? One can understand the fashionably late crowds in Los Angeles or even New York, but Boston? What’s going on?

It takes a good three or four innings for the place to fill up. So I asked, “What gives?’’ to Twitter nation, Sox CEO Larry Lucchino and COO Sam Kennedy, and some fans in the stands, some of whom were late and some of whom showed up on time.

“Weather uncertainty this week would be my guess,’’ Lucchino said.

Kennedy agreed, texting, “Possibly weather - actually up on tickets sold through 30 games. Pretty resilient fan base all things considered.’’

The weather indeed has been uncertain this week, though during Wednesday night’s 2-1 Orioles victory over the Red Sox, it was clear and rather nice.

When the Celtics are playing, it’s understandable that people might come later or stay away, but there was no Celtics game Wednesday night.

Soxdetox tweeted, “the fans don’t actually like baseball. It’s confusing for most. Don’t want to sit so long before singing ‘Sweet Caroline.’’

Other tweets:

Bobganley: “Not sure, but it’s probably the same reason fans r doing wave in bottom of the 7th, down 1, with 1 on and no outs against a div. rival.’’

Sheppy 9: “Long games, pricy beers.’’

Lyzard: “Green line??’’

Soxfan1572: “Cause we can’t even beat the Orioles.’’

Jasondecato: “So-so starting pitching.’’

Kjm065: “7 p.m. is a little too early with traffic, work, et al. 7:30 wba little more ideal, but then the games end after 11. Can’t win.’’

Kofbruni: “A pitcher of beer deal at the #caskandflagon.’’

Devinc1978: “They thought it was a sellout.’’

matzos: “It’s like a Cubs game. All about party and don’t care how the team is doing. Sad to see a once-great franchise devolve.’’

Dnucci14: “Pink hat backlash!!!’’

Davism: “Length of games, even if you’re 20 minutes late chances are you [have] 3 hrs of baseball left.’’

Jackscagnett1: “Cheap tix if u show up late. Bad Econ tough times equals cut backs.’’

Cwags86: “The traffic and public transportation system of Boston is abysmal?’’

Shinnickm: “Traffic was a disaster tonight.’’

If you looked at the stands at opening pitch Wednesday night, you would have thought it was 1983. There were a lot of empty seats, many of them in the expensive seats behind home plate.

Most of the seats filled in, but there were areas of red seat backs that were visible. Tickets sales may be up, but it just doesn’t look that way.

The St. Martin family of Sharon got to the ballpark at 4:30 p.m. because Nancy and Bob’s daughters, Anna-Li and Kaelyn, were honorary bat girls.

“I was saying ‘Where is everybody?’ ’’ said Nancy St. Martin.

“I went up to get something to eat around 6:30 and it seemed like it was filing in,’’ said Bob St. Martin.

Joe and Erin Jeffrey and Deborah McElroy of Framingham admitted they were a little late.

“It’s a tradition that we go to the El Tiante section on Yawkey Way and have an El Presidente,’’ said Joe Jeffrey, who was wearing Curt Schilling’s No. 38 jersey but had removed the ‘S’’ and the “G’’ at the ends so it now says “Chillin.’’

“I’d say we went in after an inning and half there and listened to the game on the radio before we came in.’’ His group sat in the bleachers.

And then there were Coley Donahue of West Peabody and Kathy Schevis of Peabody, who also arrived late, but not too late.

“Second batter of the first inning,’’ Coley said.

“The traffic was really bad and then it took a while to find parking,’’ Schevis said. “It took a little bit longer than we thought.’’

One person who arrived on time was Amy Sivador of San Diego. She was here on business and made her first appearance at Fenway.

“I was the only one in my row for the first four innings,’’ said Sivador, who sat in the Section 21 grandstand behind home plate.

Tweeted thomasjcarvahlo after the loss: “Sometimes the team doesn’t show up for full game. Why should the fans?’’

Risjojo tweeted: “The zing is gone and reduced ticket prices makes it less painful to arrive late.’’

Tamurphy3: “It’s a ticket hand me down crowd with less interest and familiarity with ballpark.’’

Joe2sa: “Yeah. No one cares anymore. LOL.’’

Really, no one cares? Is it because the Sox are in last place? Because of the poor start? A residual effect from last season’s September collapse? Is it because so many of their star players, such as Jacoby Ellsbury, are out of the lineup? Is it because the Red Sox didn’t bring in any big name free agents in the offseason?

Tweeted Koab60, “The bars are packed.’’

True, there are more bars, and newer bars in and around Fenway. And yes, they are packed before and after games. Are fans having a drink before the game and then saying ‘Let’s have another?’ Is it a case of it being still early in the season and the games perhaps aren’t that meaningful, even though they’re against division-rival Baltimore?

Wednesday night’s crowd didn’t have much to cheer about. The Sox scored only one run against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, who outdueled Josh Beckett. The Sox managed only seven hits and left the crowd frustrated with missed opportunities.

“We need to give them something to cheer about,’’ said Kennedy before the bottom of the ninth.

But the game ended swiftly and suddenly.

A lot of the people who arrived late were probably only in the ballpark for a couple of hours as they witnessed the third-quickest game at Fenway this season.

Is the “zing’’ really gone? Does “no one’’ care?

Or are Boston fans just getting, well, like LA fans, and coming fashionably late?

Say it isn’t so.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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