Frozen Fenway on the horizon for Terriers?

By Arielle Aronson/DFP Staff

Fenway Park is one of the most historic ballparks in the country. Its nooks and crannies, its crooked seats, its bricks that have been standing since 1912, all of it combines to make the park one of the more magical places to play in or watch a baseball game.

In 2010, Boston discovered Fenway Park is also a unique place to play in or watch a hockey game when the NHL’s Winter Classic took over the field for a few weeks at the end of December and beginning of January. Since the ice was already down at Fenway, the Boston University and Boston College hockey teams played a game as well as part of Sun Life Financial’s Frozen Fenway 2010.

College hockey will return to Fenway this winter, as it was announced in August that the University of Massachusetts will play the University of Vermont before the University of Maine takes on the University of New Hampshire in doubleheader action on the Fenway ice Jan. 7.

On Thursday morning, the City of Boston, Hockey East Association, Boston Red Sox and Fenway Sports Management announced that the doubleheader will be followed a week later by another college game, as the Boston College Eagles would play their Jan. 14 game against the Northeastern Huskies at Fenway Park as the second part of Sun Life Financial Frozen Fenway 2012. The game will be the first at Fenway for the Huskies.

The Terriers also have a game on Jan. 14, an away game at Harvard University. The Crimson, like the Huskies, have never played at Fenway, and considering all four teams together make up the four Beanpot schools, it seems strange that the BU/Harvard game will not take place at Fenway as well.

As it turns out, BU and Harvard’s absence is not for a lack of trying on the part of the event organizers.

“90 times, it’s been discussed that Harvard would play BU at Fenway Park,” said BU coach Jack Parker Thursday afternoon. “It was long before BC, I believe, and to this moment, it is still being discussed. And I told [Harvard coach] Teddy [Donato], I actually talked to Teddy this morning and I said, ‘Teddy, it’s your home game. It’s not my home game. If you want to select to play at Fenway Park, that’s your business. I can’t say we’re not going to come. But I don’t think it’s a good idea.'”

Parker said there are numerous reasons why a game at Fenway Park would be unpalatable this coming January. One of his biggest reasons against it was that BU just played at Fenway two seasons ago, and playing there again this year would take away from the novelty and interest in the game. Parker also noted that conditions on the ice at Fenway are not ideal.

When BU played BC at Fenway two years ago, temperatures were around 19 degrees at game time. Those temperatures are to be expected for an outdoor night game in January in Boston, but expecting chilly temperatures does not make it any more comfortable for the teams and their fans.

“Fenway Park was a fun thing the first time we did it, and I think it’s great that the other schools get a chance to do it,” Parker said. “But it would be much more of a real hockey game if BC was playing Northeastern at whoever’s home game it was that night than if it was at Fenway.

“It will be interesting to see the crowd they draw. Fenway can sell a lot of things so they have a big market for it. But there will be a time when it will be overkill. The attraction … it won’t be that cool to sit there and freeze and see a game that is played differently because it is played there.”

But the actual game conditions were not the only deterrent for Parker. The coach said he felt allowing the four Beanpot teams to play in basically a preview of the first round of the Beanpot just weeks before the event was not fair to the tradition and history of the Beanpot at the Boston Garden.

“The BC/BU thing was a great thing to have and you got 38,000, outdraw the NHL that week … Isn’t that nice?” Parker said. “And now it’s the four New England schools. People in New England have come to Fenway Park for a long time. I think it’s a good idea to let those four New England schools draw their crowds to that for a one-time shot but I don’t think we should be fooling with something the Garden has done so well for us for so many years.

“A couple weeks before that, we want to play the first round of the Beanpot before we play the first round of the Beanpot? At a big venue? I’m a Red Sox season ticket holder and a fan of Fenway Park and a fan of the Fenway group that’s doing all this stuff, but I’m also a fan of the Garden and college hockey and the excitement of it.”

All this is not to say that Parker is opposed to any future Terrier return to Fenway. He simply does not want to play at Fenway too frequently and at the expense of compromising a different tournament.

“If we did it once every four years for our guys, maybe that would be a good thing,” Parker said. “Then, every one of our guys could say they got a chance to play at Fenway Park once in their four years.”


  1. I agree with Parker. Much too soon.
    The first time it was a novelty and something special. The game had a nice atmosphere.
    BUT it was also cold, wet, overpriced, uncomfortable and, let’s face it, a lousy place to try and watch a hockey game.
    I’m glad that I went to the first game, but I am in no hurry to go back anytime soon.

  2. Thank you Jack. You may have fewer strands of hair up top than a few years ago, but you are still very astute. Hopefully, Teddy will see the wisdom in what you said.

  3. I agree to an extent. My family drove up for the first Frozen Fenway and we had a BLAST. GREAT atmosphere, great seats, great time had by all, especially since it was the day of my son’s 9th birthday and we got to beat BC in the process. I, also, don’t want to see it overdone, but this is the 100th Anniversary of Fenway and it’s a special year. Do it this year and then don’t go back for 4 more. It really is that simple and for all those that didn’t have a good time, I would say you are not required to go back. For everyone who complained i guarentee there would be someone to take your place at the next one…

  4. We could use the publicity for recruiting. BU has not done a very good job of promoting its hockey for a while. The whole sports department needs a shake up soon.

  5. Greedy greedy greedy. When is enough enough for those money grubbers on Yawkey Way? Why mess with the Beanpot? Harvard can’t draw flies to their games. Who is coming to that game to support them?

  6. Yeah you’re right, the Beanpot every year, playing at MSG every 2 years, playing in the Icebreaker 2 of the last 4 years, playing in Chicago last year, playing at Fenway 2 years ago… terrible job getting the program noticed. Why haven’t they played at Wrigley or Yankee Stadium yet? How about the LA Coliseum? Slackers.

  7. LOL at the sour grapes by Parker. Interesting how his statement came out AFTER is was announced the he would NOT be playing at Fenway.

  8. I find it interesting that Parker thinks playing at Fenway every 2 years is overkill but the Terriers and Cornell are now excited to go to MSG every 2 years , in NYC a non hockey town, because they sold out the games the three times they’ve played there so far, and Parker says they made money there. Isn’t there a lot more money to make at Fenway with 2 great rivals from the same city every 2 years as well? As far as novelty goes, hasn’t the novelty if playing at MSG worn out as well?

  9. Fenway Park and MSG are different. There are a lot of alumi for BU and especially Cornell living in NYC area.

    Parker mentions his curiosity how the attendance will fare in this year’s Frozen Fenway, and I think it’s also a wise decision to not participate and see. Rod Hot Hockey in MSG was only signed for three times, every two years. Now that they know the hockey game sells well, they will probably continue the new tradition. If this year’s Frozen Fenway turns out to be successful, they might start a new biannual tradition.