This April marked the 1ooth anniversary of the opening of Boston’s Fenway Park. Plenty has been said and written about this landmark’s centennial and I can’t think of much to add except by way of a juxtaposition. Here in Atlanta we’re talking about demolishing a perfectly serviceable twenty year old stadium to build a new facility with that most fashionable of all features: a retractable roof. The cost is projected to be in the neighborhood of one billion dollars. Readers can take sides over which number is the more outrageous; the one billion dollars for the new structure or the mere 20 years in age of the old.
We have always been a disposable society, but there must have been a time when, at the very least, a twenty year old, multimillion dollar building was not considered something suitable only for the wrecking ball. Fenway Park, then maybe only ninety years old, was once thought to be ready for demolition. That was, however, before three and four generations of Red Sox fans, and baseball fans everywhere, considered the memories and history that Fenway embodied and decided it needed to be restored, not replaced.
Comparing Fenway Park to the Georgia Dome is an apples and oranges type of exercise. And I’m not suggesting that Bostonians have a more cultivated sense of history than Georgians do. (After all, look at the lengths to which Atlanta went to preserve the Margaret Mitchell House.) It’s just that places become special precisely because they’ve been given time to become special. If the Georgia Dome’s days are numbered, here’s hoping that maybe Turner Field can, someday, be like Fenway.