This past fall, Notre Dame brought their traveling road show of the Shamrock Series into Boston for a home game at Fenway Park. They painted Fenway in Fighting Irish colors, turned the home of the Red Sox into their own stadium, and celebrated an evening of football on a gridiron stretching from Wade Boggs' third base to the right field patrolled by Dwight Evans, Mike Greenwell, and Tony Congliaro.
The Shamrock Series, for its intended purpose, was a success. Notre Dame won the game, but BC, playing inspired football in 1980s-era throwback jerseys, defended their home city with a valiant effort. With a week of events including an Irish festival, hurling, and Thanksgiving high school rivalries, the Red Sox themselves came away as arguably the biggest winners.
Now it seems the Red Sox are looking to add more. According to The Boston Globe's Christopher Gaspar, the Red Sox are looking to add an annual football game to their autumn slate with a home game for - you guessed it - Boston College.
According to Gaspar's report, there have been conversations between Brad Bates and Red Sox president Sam Kennedy. We're not sure how far along those reports are, but it's likely the Red Sox would like to bring in the Eagles to be a host for one of their home games, which would move from Alumni Stadium to Fenway.
This is an ambitious idea paved by the success of the Shamrock Series, but like most events, hinges on the right circumstances. The Shamrock Series is arguably similar to the Green Line Rivalry's move to play hockey around the Winter Classic in 2010. With those first games now in their rearview mirror, the Red Sox are looking for a way to capitalize on their popularity and keep it going for more profitable years. In hockey, that meant mining it to other teams at the high school, prep school, and collegiate levels. In football, that could be mining it to the biggest chip in the collegiate ranks - Boston College.
With its tradition and history, BC is the biggest name in the area in college football and therefore have a level of punching power now experienced by a Harvard or UMass. With the success of this past year's event behind Notre Dame's star power name, BC was able to establish that, even in a down year, they are the strongest local brand.
As Gaspar mentions, Bates is set on having at least six home games at Alumni Stadium. With a commitment to seven possible home games each season, this would be a fantastic way for the Eagles to spice up the home slate, regardless of the opponent, with something no other college team could claim.
The opponent discussion is the potential pratfall. Boston College has an on-campus stadium where they control everything, meaning it might be too lucrative to give up a home game (with its ticket revenues and parking fees) against, say, Florida State or Clemson. But It would add a layer of spice to the budding ACC rivalry with Syracuse, and it would provide a historic backdrop for local rivalry games against teams like UMass, UConn, or - here's a thought - Notre Dame. Then again, moving one of those FSU or Clemson games to Fenway could move a game that would've been on ESPN2 to national ABC outlets, just as ND-BC was the main attraction on NBC Sports.
There's also the possibility that this game would open up BC's non-conference schedule to teams previously unwilling to make the trip to Massachusetts. With the Power 5 scheduling requirement that's about to kick in, this can be used to get a bigger name from the Big XII or SEC - a team understanding that a game at Fenway would be a new layer for their traditions. Even teams with deep traditions would salivate at adding this to their resumes.
I went to Fenway Park the day after the Shamrock Series game for the Irish festival and Hurling Classic between Dublin and Galway. Even with some of the signage already taken down, I marveled at how Notre Dame appropriately marketed the game. The Red Sox team shops were adorned in all Shamrock Series and Notre Dame apparel, and there were closed up Under Armour concession areas no doubt used for all Irish gear.
The signage and the way Notre Dame marketed the game, with the Shamrock Series in place of the American League East standings, and the "WE ARE ND" sign above the Green Monster - it was genius in the details' detail. It was subtle but obvious at how they left no stone unturned. It was everywhere, but it wasn't overkill. I felt like I couldn't escape the ND name, but that was the point.
As a side note, BC did do a very good job marketing themselves as best as they could. The discussion of ticket prices aside, the Eagles choice to wear special edition uniforms and light up the Prudential Center with maroon and gold really showed how even though the on-field night belonged to the Irish, this was still a BC city. It elevated the profile, and you really have to tip your hat to how BC intertwined itself into the ND machine.
The possibility of using that marketing details for a Boston College home game would be fantastic. Two years ago, UMass marketed its home game against the Eagles as the "Battle for the Bay State." They sunk all of their marketing dollars into banners on MBTA buses, trash cans, and billboards. Showing up at Gillette Stadium that day - it was a UMass home game on the scoreboard and in the program, but it felt like a neutral site game. They were playing on a field adorned only with New England Patriots logos, and it felt like the Minutemen gave up whatever advantages they had to make it a "Battle for the Bay State." For a team that struggled to draw 15,000, the ploy worked. They drew nearly 31,000 fans.
Therefore, an appropriately marketed game could be an attendance and merchandising bonanza for the Eagles. It would increase exposure in a relatively untapped frontier, much in the way it did for Notre Dame in the Boston area. Though BC fans despised watching a Boston stadium turn into "Notre Dame New England," they have to give it up that the Irish and the Red Sox collaborated on an absolutely magnificently marketed event. Being able to sink that attention to BC provides the Eagles with a chance to reclaim the stadium for themselves, and perhaps even build upon it to really give them an edge beyond anything that could happen on the field.
As noted in the article, it's unlikely this game could happen in the near future, and there's a lot of discussion and negotiation that would need to take place. But the idea of moving a home game to Fenway Park is a no-brainer, and it's something extremely exciting to discuss. I think it's something that almost needs to be done, to associate the Eagles with one of the most powerful brands in all of sports. It would give them a power chip unlike anything else in sports, and it would strengthen them in their home city. I love the idea, and I look forward to hopefully seeing this getting done in the future.