Walsh reviewing Red Sox street deal
Mayor Martin J. Walsh may require the Boston Red Sox to pay for the club’s longstanding use of a public street for VIP parking on game days, a move that would end decades of free use by the baseball team and void a late-term deal signed by former Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
The Sox run a valet parking service for players, staff, and friends of the team on a stretch of Van Ness Street abutting Fenway Park and have defended the practice by asserting that gameday access to the public way was part of a 1945 agreement with the city. Yet no property records exist to support the assertion.
“We are currently reviewing the agreement, and compensation is one of the issues that we will consider during this review,” said Kate Norton, a Walsh spokeswoman.
In a statement, the Red Sox argued that reserving Van Ness Street for parking and foot traffic aids public safety, a position Menino backed in the past.
“City public safety agencies have determined that for public safety purposes, it is advantageous and appropriate to have Van Ness Street closed to vehicular traffic during Fenway Park events,” the club said. “We believe it is appropriate for the city agencies charged with public safety and orderly transportation to confirm longstanding practices that have been in place for decades.”
The Walsh review was first reported by Commonwealth Magazine online Thursday.
In October, the Menino administration and the Red Sox signed a new pact that permits the team to use a portion of Van Ness at no charge for all 81 regular-season home games, plus playoff games and any other ballpark events where a crowd of more than 2,500 is expected.
That deal was separate from a much larger lease the city signed with the ball club at the same time, in which the Red Sox were granted air rights over Lansdowne Street — behind the ballpark’s famed left-field wall — and permission to close a 17,000-square-foot strip of Yawkey Way for gameday concession sales for as long as the baseball team plays at Fenway.
Signed in the final months of the Menino administration, the lease calls for the club to pay the city about $734,000 in each of the next 10 seasons — four times what the city has charged over the last 11 years. After that, payments would cease.
The Walsh administration said it has no plans to review that lease.