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Music venue next to Fenway Park proposed

Rendering of a proposed music theater the Red Sox owners and Live Nation would build alongside Fenway Park.Fenway Sports Group

The Red Sox and music industry giant Live Nation said Friday they have plans to build a performing arts center alongside Fenway Park that would be the city’s largest indoor venue of its kind.

Called Fenway Theater, it would seat 5,000 people and sit on a triangle of land behind the ballpark’s bleachers, between Lansdowne and Ipswich streets, an area mainly used for parking. An image provided by Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox, shows a three-story building that effectively extends Lansdowne Street’s line of nightclubs to what is now a lot cordoned off by a chain link fence.


The team hopes the project will also further establish the neighborhood as a destination for visitors beyond the baseball season, said Tom Werner, chairman of Fenway Sports Group.

“The success of Fenway Park as a year-round venue has paved the way for this project, which will ensure the Lansdowne Street area remains a true entertainment district in Boston,” Werner said in a statement. “To have an intimate, indoor performing arts space for smaller-scale events will allow for a wider array of uses throughout the year.”

Aside from that description, however, few details were made available on Friday.

A Red Sox spokeswoman described the plans as “preliminary,” saying it would be “premature” to discuss square footage, project costs, and other specifics. A Live Nation spokesman declined to comment. No documents have been filed with the Boston Planning & Development Agency, which would have to approve the project, and a BPDA spokeswoman said the team has had no in-depth conversations with City Hall about its plans.

The project also may have to win over neighbors, who have at times in recent years expressed concern about traffic and noise from the growing number of concerts at Fenway Park.

The venue would be fully enclosed and far smaller than the ballpark, but would probably bring dozens more events a year to the neighborhood. The Red Sox said they’ve begun conversations with the neighboring community, and have a meeting scheduled next week with the Fenway Civic Association, according to that group’s website.


Association president Tim Horn said he hoped the Red Sox would commit to fewer outdoor concerts at Fenway if the new venue is approved, and that the team would continue to talk with the community about the impact on the neighborhood from events in and around the ballpark.

“It’s a matter of balance in a neighborhood of 40,000 people,” Horn said in an e-mail.

An affiliate of Live Nation, which runs venues nationwide, would manage and book Fenway Theater, along with Live Nation-owned House of Blues across Lansdowne Street. It’s a way to build on a relationship the Red Sox and the concert promoter have developed as neighbors, and to bring more major touring acts to Boston, said Don Law, the longtime concert promoter who runs Live Nation New England.

“For a decade and a half, we’ve enjoyed a successful partnership with the leadership team at Fenway Sports Group, and we are pleased to now expand on that relationship through this new venture,” he said in a statement.

Fenway Theater’s capacity would be about the same as that of Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, an outdoor facility on the waterfront that Live Nation also owns, but significantly larger than any other indoor concert venue in the city, other than the TD Garden and Boston University’s Agganis Arena. The Boch Center’s Wang Theatre has a capacity of 3,500, while the Orpheum Theatre, home to many raucous rock concerts over the years, seats about 2,700, and House of Blues can hold roughly 2,400.


Music fans have long said Boston needs a bigger indoor facility designed for concerts. Past efforts to open such a venue have not been successful, Last year, for instance, developers of Hood Park in Charlestown said they were negotiating with a national concert operator to put a 4,000-seat venue in the 20-acre complex on Rutherford Avenue. But negotiations stalled over neighborhood concerns about traffic, and the project was scuttled.

Depending on how it is configured, Fenway Theater could also accommodate other types of shows more modest in scale than a top-level hip hop or rock act.

In its statement, Fenway Sports Group — whose principal owner, John Henry, also owns The Boston Globe — said it would work with a variety of institutions “to create an epicenter for the performing arts community.”

The project reflects the continued evolution of the Fenway neighborhood. Developers, chiefly Samuels & Associates, have spent the last decade transforming Boylston Street south of the ballpark to a corridor of sleek apartment and office buildings with hip restaurants at street level. Construction has begun on the giant Fenway Center complex along Beacon Street west of Fenway, where a new Commuter Rail stop and two apartment buildings under construction are the start of what could someday be 1.3 million square feet of office space, housing, and parking that spans the Massachusetts Turnpike.


Tim Logan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bytimlogan.