Fenway district attracts startup culture, dubbed Boston’s new ‘Innovation District’

The Greater Boston area is recognized on a national scale as home to many innovative companies, but it hasn’t always been this way, specifically for the Fenway neighborhood. Rewind to August 2015, a time when Samuels & Associates played an important role in developing real estate that would support and impact startup culture south of the Charles river.

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“No matter where you are in Boston, you’re going to have access to some of the best minds in the country. The thing we loved about Fenway was the idea of renewal in such a historic area,” said Will Ahmed, CEO at WHOOP, a performance tracking startup. He continued, “The Fenway area is synonymous with Boston, and we really wanted to be a part of its revitalization as a hub for innovation. There’s something great about infusing a historic location with a new generation of workers that creates a unique energy.”

Fenway is home to baseball, but the district is casting a spotlight on what many are dubbing the next “Innovation District” in the greater Boston area. This shift has resulted in startup companies, many technology related, now opting to rent office space in places other than Kendall Square or other areas of Cambridge that see innovation regularly. A lot of this has to do with the office space available. With startup companies, it is difficult to find working space that keeps a growing business in mind.

This is where Hatch comes in. Located on the eighth floor of the Landmark Center building, Hatch Fenway is a 110,000-square-foot office space designed with startups in mind.Cf_8dDJXIAA2h6F

Samuels and Associates have broken the space up into smaller units for companies, ranging from about 2,000-square-feet to more than 30,000-square-feet, providing accommodation for eight to ten startups.

“We are trying to bring and move some of the innovation back into the Greater Boston area,” said Justin Mott, director of business development at Hatch. “A lot of these companies nowadays feel they have to think and live on the red line—so that’s usually in Cambridge, in Alewife, in Davis Square. So they are usually north of the Charles River…we are trying to break the mold.”

Hatch currently has seven startups leasing and operating in the building. Toast, a restaurant point-of-sale system, is the anchor tenant, utilizing 35,000-square feet of the creative workspace.

Toast landed their first customer in 2013 with only 10 employees. By the end of 2014, they had 450 locations, and closing out 2015 they have over 1,000 locations with more than 120 employees.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth of this area even within the last year. Many new companies have moved here in recent months, all of varying sizes and industries, adding a great and varied community,” said Toast Vice President of Marketing Ellie Mirman.

10-inch-blueToast originally operated from 100 Cambridge Park Drive in Cambridge. Though they did consider staying in Cambridge when they decided a move was necessary for the growth of their company (only because that’s where their previous offices were based), ultimately, the benefits of Fenway drew Toast to Hatch.

“Fenway offered the perks of food, entertainment, and transportation options, while also being a startup center early in its development. There are certainly many startup hubs around the city, but they’re now crowded and expensive—hard for a company of our size to fit and continue to grow. Joining a brand new center allows us to be part of building a new startup hub while also having the space and perks we need to build a strong business,” said Mirman.

It may be more fun to be around the entertainment, but from a business perspective, is the move to Fenway for better, or worse?

“I would definitely say right now Fenway area is pretty much cheaper than Cambridge. It’s because it’s oversaturated. There are so many people and so many companies starting that everybody is on top of each other and there is not a ton of room for growth—for people to survive out there long-term. It just gets so expensive because the way, and the speed, and the rate at which these companies are growing,” said Mott.

Unique to Hatch is the design and structure of the working space.

“At Hatch, we cater to whatever the needs of the company are. Really, the amount of space we give each company is based on where they see themselves for the next few months,” Mott said.

Hatch operates under a gross lease, renting out space for $25 per square-foot and an extra $1.50 per square-foot for utilities as a flat rate. Typically, office space rents under a 12 to 18 month contract, most companies choosing the latter.

“We’re trying to make it simple and easy for a start-up to survive,” said Mott.

According to Tom Eisenmann, Harvard Business School professor and faculty co-chair of the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, who studies the management of new ventures, “Having someone take care of WiFi, package delivery, etc. is a big plus. More attractive, though, is the flexibility of leases for startups that can’t predict when they’ll outgrow space or need to shrink.”

As far as competing with the perks of the surrounding Cambridge environment, the author of “Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts” doesn’t think companies who choose Fenway will suffer any loss.

“Any startup that wanted to work with clinicians in the Longwood medical centers would find this a terrific location. And tech startups, Internet or mobile, wouldn’t be at a disadvantage, relative to Kendall or the Innovation District. Fenway is conveniently located and has great amenities with restaurants, etc.,” said Eisenmann.

But Hatch isn’t the only space driving in new companies to Fenway. Additionally, the Van Ness office tower on Boylston Street, also developed by Samuels & Associates has become a magnet for companies, mostly technology.

Take WHOOP, a fitness tracking startup, which revolutionizes the way teams and players measure stress and recovery created by three Harvard graduates.

Since the inception for the idea, the product has received $12 million in venture capital funding—predominantly from data science investors Two Sigma Ventures and MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte.

“We’re getting traction with teams across every pro sports league and major NCAA conference. We’re growing our team to keep pace with demand and to ensure we’re ahead of the innovation curve as data and analytics play an increasing role in sports decision making. We’ve designed our office with collaboration in mind,” said Ahmed.

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WHOOP, is on its way, working in the competitive world of elite athletics, used by athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, and several Olympics teams and trainers just to name a few. With nearly 50 employees, they had to keep their growth rate in mind when looking for office space, and it didn’t hurt that their space is right next to Fenway Park.

“Fenway has always been associated with the Red Sox—and always will be. So it’s great to see the area marry athletics and technological innovation as seamlessly as it has over the past few years. This is a concept we’re intimately familiar with…Combining athletics and innovation is working for WHOOP and we’re glad to see it’s working for Fenway as well,” said Ahmed.

It’s clear since the arrival of Hatch, and other launchpad style offices in the Fenway district that the innovation in an area, known predominantly for an assortment of lively entertainment, has seen quite the shift.

“Fenway as a community has really developed into something really special, and people really see that. Once you live in this area or work in this area, just for a while, it doesn’t even have to be for long, you understand that almost immediately,” said Mott.

With more startups flocking to the Fenway neighborhood, it is inevitable that what people refer to as the next “Innovation District,” can only flourish with time.

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Fenway Park Extended Netting Receives Mixed Review at Home Opener

FENWAY—Baseball is back in Boston, but the ballpark experience known by true fans may be gone for good.

The Red Sox introduced a new protective netting behind home plate in Fenway Park, extending from dugout to dugout, which serves to protect fans from broken bats and foul balls in its home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on April 11.

The netting comes as a heavy suggestion from Major League Baseball (MLB) after too many fan injuries, namely, Tonya Carpenter who left the stadium with life-threatening injuries after Brett Lawrie’s bat struck her in June 2015.

“Clubs are encouraged to implement or maintain netting that shields from line-drive foul balls all field-level seats that are located between the near ends of both dugouts and within 70 feet of home plate,” said Michael Teevan, MLB vice president of communications.

The netting, which extends 9 feet, 8 inches high, was the result of a fan safety initiative issued by MLB in December 2015 to all 30 teams. The initiative urged teams to consider a netting to protect any seats within a 70 feet radium of home plate.

“A girl almost died. A bat split in half. They had to do something. They’re not responsible, but also people should remember they’re at a game, they’re not there for social hour. Part of them are in there just to drink, they don’t even look up at the game. You better look up! Especially if you’re in the front couple of rows,” said Red Sox fan, Frank Destefano.

DSC_0106As a result of multiple fan injuries in Fenway Park, the Red Sox took the suggestion, acting immediately to prevent fan injuries. Sam Kennedy, Red Sox President worked with the business affairs department and facilities management to design something that would work for everyone.

“It’s unfortunate because less people will get foul balls. I got a ball at my first game. It was the best feeling ever. It’s good and bad I guess. It’s a freak chance thing. I feel so bad for that woman and it’s a good idea for safety, but at the same time, I can see why some people would be upset about it,” said Aemon Williams, 19.

According to Bloomberg News, there are 1,750 spectators who are injured every year at major league games. However, taking into consideration there were almost 74 million fans to attend MLB games in 2015, the probability that a spectator will get hit are slim (0.002365 per cent).

2Last week, The Red Sox opened Fenway to season ticket-holders to preview the changes in case they wanted to relocate their seats.

Following the home opener, author Stephen King said, “That net feels like paying good money to sit in a cage,” in an article he wrote for the Boston Globe.

He noted that as a Red Sox season ticket holder, he accepts the responsibility to take care of himself, despite the safety risk.

But, while some found the netting to be a distraction, others understood the safety precaution behind the decision.

Baltimore Orioles fan, Jon Bubb, flew in from Maryland for the game and hadn’t heard about the recent netting change since his last trip to Fenway.

“Safety first, right? I haven’t seen how that affects the viewing for the other fans but I think keeping fans safe is a good thing. I mean, if we’re talking about fan experience, I’d rather not get hit with a bat. That woman got seriously injured, so I’m glad that Major League Baseball, or at least Boston is doing something about it,” Bubb said.

The Red Sox join the Cincinnati Red and the Houston Astros, who are already in compliance, while the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies plan to take the safety precaution as well.

DSC_0431“It’s great to know they’re protecting the fans. Especially after that lady got hit with a bat last year. I think you have to look out for the safety of the fans first, and getting a foul ball is kind of just an added bonus,” said Nick Comeau, who attended the game with his 5-year-old son.

The MLB stated that by 2017, customers who buy tickets will be notified if the seats are located behind the netting. However, as it stands now, only through the “3D Seat Finder” via the Red Sox Ticket page does a small disclaimer state, “This tool is intended as a general guide to seat selection. The seat views experienced in this venue may not be exactly as seen here due to limited seat availability, camera locations, or other obstructions. Please check with your ticket representative for details on your specific seat location.”

The website does clearly state, however, that all sales are final. “No refunds, no exchanges.”

MLB has discussed extending nets for a while, and some have even suggested they follow Japan’s netting precaution, which extends from foul pole to foul pole.

So, while some may find that the netting to be an inconvenience, at the end of the day, it’s main purpose is to protect the fans, and that’s something Red Sox fans will have to endure for now.

Fenway adds smokeless tobacco ban to list of changes

Along with the netting extension change, Fenway Park has also banned all tobacco products, including smokeless chew, and electronic cigarettes.

1“They were going to do it. It’s illegal to smoke in there. If you’re a policeman, how are you going to differentiate when you see smoke. If they’re smoking a cigarette, if they’re smoking grass, smokeless…it’d be too hard. So they can’t go around chasing everyone when they see smoke,” said Frank Destefano.

3Boston follows San Francisco in banning smokeless products.

This rule applies to all of Boston’s baseball parks, as well as other professional and amateur sporting venues. Violators will be fined $250. However, the players union has refused to accept the prohibition of tobacco as of now.

“I’m very happy with it. They’re role models and they need to have that on their shoulders. They make a lot of money to play baseball. They can at least withhold from the ‘good stuff’,” said fan Jayne Lyons.

Similarly, Jon Bubb said, “I’m all for that. I think that’s gross. Just nasty.”

Though many are in favor of the ban, fans are skeptical of whether the policy will actually be implemented for players.

“No way. No one is going to be able to tell if it’s gum or whatever else. I get what they’re trying to do. I feel like most people get angry. It really rubs people the wrong way, but at the same time, I feel like that’s not something you can really put a ban on. Who’s going to implement it? Who’s going to make sure it’s enforced?”  said Aemon Williams.

Nick Comeau, who attended the home opener with his son said, “I think it’s good. Obviously my kid is with me, but I don’t know how they’re going to monitor that. It’s probably not going to happen. It’s good for kids watching the game, but I’ don’t know how they’re going to issue fines.”

Anthony Antonella, 23, was vaping before the game on Landsdowne St.

“I think it’s understandable. I don’t want to blow clouds of smoke in front of people, children’s faces. I understand Fenway is a family-oriented atmosphere, so as much as I’m of age, I don’t want to interrupt a kid having a good time. So, I completely understand. I just do it because it’s helped me quit cigarettes. So, it is what it is,” said Antonella.

Players have been warned about the new laws in Fenway, but perhaps old habits die hard.

Mohammed Alkhatib, a t-shirt vendor in his tenth season didn’t know about the bans.

“I think the ban is a little excessive. So they’re going to fine them? I don’t know…maybe it’s just a part of the game,” Alkhatib said.

Student-run WTBU Plans Rebuilding for Next September Following Fire Emergency

KENMORE— Boston University’s College of Communication plans to rebuild a safer radio studio for next semester, potentially in a new, more visible location within the building following a three-alarm fire that caused $500,000 in damages on March 25.

The fire, though an emergency that sent five people to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, gives Boston University an opportunity to not only upgrade the technology for the studio, but most importantly open up the discussion for how to take preventative measures in the design decisions.

“The symbol for crisis is the same symbol for opportunity. And that is the way we’re going to look at this. The outpouring of support from alumni and from others really gives us a lot of encouragement. We’re not thinking along the lines of rebuilding the WTBU we had. What we’re thinking about doing is an opportunity to really transform WTBU,” said Thomas Fiedler, of the College of Communication.

The fire was understood to have been electrical, with too many wires plugged into one source of power, according to the Boston Fire Department.

As a result, all radio broadcasting classes will work out of smaller recording booths in classroom 321.

“It’s really sad. I’ve been very emotional about it. Mostly because it’s the thing that I am most proud to pass on to BU students who will enter this school or are already here. Being on the radio helped me find my voice and has been a constant during my time at BU. These places represent tender beginnings to me,” Dee Daniels, DJ for WTBU said.

“Students will get to start a new WTBU legacy in a new studio. That has made me happy through all this loss,” said Daniels.

Moving forward with design options, safety is the top concern.

According to Mariel Cariker, WTBU Promotions, “The problem with WTBU was that there was no fire alarm, or if there was it was too quiet for the three students to hear in the studio because it was so soundproof, which is an issue. We want it to be soundproof so we’re not disrupting classes, but obviously safety is the number one priority. And so, it’s difficult. It’s a really hard situation.”

WTBU’s E-Board met to discuss the emergency, addressing what type of fire alarm system might work best in the new space. A light? Sprinklers?

In terms of location, many, including WTBU staff advisor Anne Donohue are hoping for a more visible studio. Proximity to the exterior of the building will draw people in and visually showcase the studio to the other students on campus.

“I’m lobbying for [the studio] to get better real estate in terms of visibility to the street. The first floor would be fabulous. Some place where it can be seen. It also makes it a safer place and a more accessible place. We have a lot of guests who come in, musicians and bands and they wind around the third floor trying to find this cubbyhole. So I’d love to have something that is more prominent. But space is at a premium in this building, so that’s going to be a negotiation,” Donohue said.

Fielder added, “If we can persuade the insurance adjusters and others that rebuilding WTBU where it was would not make as much sense as building a new studio in a better space—with glass walls, or at least a glass wall–is one idea.”

Fielder stated that internal architects for the university will be brought in once the studio location decision has been set, and will welcome any ideas or suggestions to fit the new space and new technology.

“This is an opportunity for us to make this the No. 1 college radio station and the No. 1 facility with the technology that goes along with that,” Fiedler said.

Until the studio can be rebuilt, a major concern is how the student-run station will continue to broadcast.

The issue was addressed at a WTBU meeting Wednesday afternoon, which proposed two options: Either creating a makeshift studio so that students can broadcast shows live (if enough were interested), or just creating podcasts and uploading them to the WTBU site, or similar audio websites such as Soundcloud.

“We never want anything to ever feel like it’s just E-Board versus everyone. We want everyone to be involved as a community. WTBU wouldn’t run without its DJs, so I’m really glad that we were able to put out the information we were able to, and I feel everyone is informed,” said Cariker.

The meeting showed that the majority prefer to broadcast live, if possible because it is an important component to the medium.

“Some people really like being able to broadcast live because it allows for audience participation where listeners can call in to make requests and chat on air,” said WTBU DJ Lauren Eiges. “But honestly it’s hard to say which direction would be better for WTBU. From my experience in radio, I personally prefer live broadcasting but really either way would be good as a temporary solution for the station,” Eiges said.

Similarly, Daniels said, “It depends on the format of your show. My show, ‘La Maison’ features DJ mixes and when I make a mix myself or have a guest DJ make a mix it’s a very cool thing to play them back in the studio live on air and talk about the process of putting them together and the songs chosen. I could do that in podcast format, but I’d rather do it live in a studio setting.”

Daniels, a senior at BU said she would like to try to get as many “La Maison” episodes up before graduation as she can using the makeshift studio.

Many students and alumni who have found their voices at the station, including Daniels, have teamed up and are reaching out on social media to promote donating to the cause.

So far, it has been successful. As of Wednesday, over 40 people had donated over $2,000 each.

In addition to donating money, multiple fundraisers are being organized, including one by the alumni group who started the music blog Allston Pudding.

“We don’t know what the insurance will pay for. From BU’s perspective, it’s probably a total loss with the cost of cleaning, said Donohue. “And then the question is how clean is it, and do you have to pay a lot of money to clean it up, and is that going to be worth it?”

Overnight, beginning late Monday evening around 10 p.m. until around 6 a.m., fire officials transferred everything out of the radio station and into PODS on Cummington St. Following the clean up, the fire officials also cleaned up the interior of the studio.

“I’m not the person who makes the determination of what’s salvageable and what’s not, but I hope we can save the vinyl records because it’s been there forever, and I don’t know that it has any monetary value, but sentimental value and historical value. It would be nice to keep some of those albums. All to be determined,” Donohue said.

To donate to WTBU, click here.

Alcantara pleads guilty, receives 18-month probation period

BOSTON—A 34-year-old man plead guilty at Edward Brooke Courthouse on March 16 to three drug-related charges and accepted 18-months probation.

District 4 Drug Unit observed DJ Alcantara selling marijuana on the corner of Tremont St. and W. Springfield St. on July 30 of last year. Following his arrest, Alcantara signed a waiver of rights.

Alcantara, was charged in Boston Municipal Court on three accounts: distribution class “D,” possession with intent class “D,” and possession with intent to distribute 2nd and subsequent offense, the last of which was dismissed in court at request of the Commonwealth defendant. His fees, a total of $200 were all waived.

Assuming compliance, DJ Alcantara is on probation until Sept. 13, 2017.

“If he agrees to give up his presumption of innocence and plead guilty then the state will agree to recommend a more lenient sentence. Mr. Alcantara chose that path. He gave up all his constitutional rights: to a jury; to confront witnesses; to require the state to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt; to remain silent; to have a unanimous verdict; and to be presumed innocent, in exchange for a sentence with no incarceration but with 18 months probation,” said defense attorney Michael Roitman in an interview.

“If he violates his probation, by not reporting, by getting arrested for some other crime or some other reason, then a judge could sentence him to two and a half years in the House of Correction for violating his probation. He is on very thin ice for the next 18 months,” Roitman said.

The District 4 Drug Control Unit (DCU) were conducting a drug investigation in the area of the Lenox Street Housing Development, where the officers have made numerous arrests involving drug related offenses, according to the Incident Report.

Officer Matthew Ryan and Detective John Boyle observed a “light-skinned Hispanic male wearing a red t-shirt with long braids” they knew to be Alcantara, as he is a known member of the Villa Victoria gang and have arrested him before. They then observed Alcantara emerge and conduct a hand-to-hand transaction with a man later identified as Jose Rosado.

Once confronted, Rosado admitted to buying “weed” from Alcantara for $20. Sgt. Det. Donald Keenan notified other members of the DCU and said Alcantara was to be placed under arrest. Upon doing so, Officer Stephen Green recovered three plastic bags of marijuana from his left cargo pocket, and two plastic bags from his right pocket along with $80, according to the report.

The D-4 DCU arrested Alcantara last May after they recovered one plastic bag of marijuana and one plastic bag of crack cocaine from someone who bought the drugs from him. Further examination revealed he also possessed a spring loaded knife upon arrest.

District 4, serving Back Bay, South Boston, and Fenway is prone to policing these neighborhoods for drug related crimes due to the low-income nature of the areas.

To help combat these crimes, Boston Police Department initiated a Neighborhood Policing initiative in September 1992.

BPD District D-4 serves “In partnership with the community to fight crime, reduce fear, and improve the quality of life,” focusing in on the South End according to commander, Captain Paul Ivens.

“I think that how one fares in the legal system sometimes boils down to the resources that they have available to them regardless of the facts or law,” said Boston University Law student Merissa Pico.

The D-4 DCU declined to comment.

Total violent crime in the city has decreased by nearly 50 percent, from 12,000 incidents in 1991, to less than 6,000 incidents in 2010, according to the most updated BPD Annual Report.

However, according to the City of Boston, total drug arrests from 2004 to 2008 increased by 237 percent in just those five years.

To help combat neighborhood crimes even further, Boston created a program to help police offers get to know their districts even better.

“The strategic planning teams at the district and citywide levels identified ‘having the same police officer in the same beat’ as an important change needed to support neighborhood-level problem solving and the fuller implementation of community/neighborhood policing in Boston,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

“This goal came to be known as Same Cops/Same Neighborhood (SC/SN). The intent was to have police officers know the geography and inhabitants of their beats and take ownership of the problems on those beats. The officers were expected to work with community partners to deal with the public safety issues identified by the police and the community.”

In Alcantara’s case, the defense stated that the request for fees to be waived was a result of his ongoing and forthcoming childcare expenses, which should be considered.

“Judges have a great deal of discretion in both setting and waiving court fees. Some judges are quite strict in collecting as much money as they can from poor defendants. Some judges are more lenient in waiving fees for people who they believe will not be able to pay. I suspect that the circumstances of the individual defendant were a strong factor in persuading the judge to waive the fees. When you have a judge who shows some compassion, it makes sense to argue the particular circumstances of your client in attempting to have fees waived,” Roitman said.

Roitman added, “All defendants have a story. For most, if not all of the defendants in the BMC, the story is tragic with mental health issues, substance abuse, addiction, poverty, poor education, abuse in various forms and other problems of the urban poor.”

Alcantara had three children. In 2012, his six-month-old daughter Dejalyse Alcantara died from Hyperthermia after she was confined in a heated car while dressed in multiple layers of clothing and covered with a blanket, her mother unconscious in the front seat, according to the Medical Examiner’s Certificate. The mother of the baby, Marivette Morales was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless engagement of a child, and unlawful possession of a Class B substance (cocaine).

Additionally, DJ Alcantara is expecting the birth of another child in the coming months.

Upon agreement, the judge stated, “There is more incentive now than ever to behave yourself.”

Super Tuesday Primary Election turnout proves strong in Kenmore

KENMORE—Massachusetts voters showed major turnout for the Primary elections at Boston University’s Myles Standish Hall to cast their vote for the future on March 1.

According to the Boston Election Department, over 120,358 votes were cast in Boston going into the final hour. That marks a 31.4 percent voter turnout.

In the university dorm, a steady influx of people came to vote in the early evening. Often voters had to wait a few minutes to receive the ballot.

Most voters showed particular interest to healthcare, taxes, environmental policies, and specifically, voting against Donald Trump.

Many voters stayed true to Massachusetts projections, voting Democrat, while others were technically “unenrolled,” but still wanted to make their contribution toward the future.

“I vote every year, and I think a lot of my vote this year is a reaction to the risk of Donald Trump for President. And as much as I respect what Bernie Sanders offers, I just don’t know if he can carry the whole country,” said Marc Parison, a resident of Charlesgate East. “Being a Democratic socialist, that’s really the challenge for me. I really like his policies, but I’m really just voting for Hillary to stop Trump. I’m happy with Hillary, I’m not trying to say anything disparaging about her, but it’s a tough choice because she’s certainly the establishment.”

Similarly, Suzanne Heywood worried about Trump getting into office. “Anyone but Trump. I’m probably one of the 16 Republicans here in the Commonwealth. This primary is very disheartening, and I voted for John Kasich because he at least seems in control. He talks about the issues while others are acting a bit baffoon-ish.”

Pamela Hrncir, unenrolled in a political party, voted for Bernie Sanders, but also opposed voting for Donald Trump.

“Health care is important. I like the idea that being a little bit more in the direction of a socialist democracy. For everybody. Opposed to just for the wealthy people,” said Hrncir.

For some of those who showed up in the heart of Boston’s Kenmore Square to vote, this was their first time voicing their opinion on the ballot.

Dominic Delore, a student at Berklee said he had never voted before., “I wanted to for this since it is the first major opportunity. And I don’t usually side with any party, but for this I voted Democrat for Bernie Sanders,” he said.

Other voters said they are more concerned about the policies and issues moving forward with their chosen candidate.

IMG_5643Maggie Young, a Republican who voted for Marc Rubio said she does not like extremist candidates. “The vote was about picking somebody who is not too extreme in either way. I feel like a lot of the candidates are very extreme and [Rubio] seemed like he had more of a grip on things and wouldn’t do anything that would harm me in anyway but maybe make things better for the economy.”

Bill Foley, a member of the Independent party, also voted Rubio for his tax plan.

“I think it gives a good option. It does lower a little bit on businesses and gives a little bit of a tax break for the middle class and upper class and opportunity for lower class to get more jobs. We’ll see what his future brings, but when things become more clear, I think that will be good. He’s my favorite,” said Foley.

MIT student Anthony Souffrant said he’s unrolled and voted for the Democratic party.

Souffrant said he is concerned about “Foreign affairs and climate change. “I’d just rather not see us kind of extend ourselves to the point where we’re actually creating conflicts in the world, and I think that’s happening right now. And then number two, climate change I think is a huge issue. And last is income and equality as well,” said Souffrant.

“I voted for Hillary. I care a great deal about environmental policy, healthcare policy, and international policy. I trust her record, I trust her decisions. The mistakes that she’s made I think she’s corrected,” said Katie Ward, Democrat.

Massachusetts will have to wait and see how it voted, along with the 11 other states on what has been called the “SEC Primary.”

Big Air Brings Big Business to Fenway

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FENWAY—Fenway Park may be the oldest stadium in baseball, but it has never seen an event quite like this in its 104 years.

Polartec’s Big Air Fenway, a U.S. Grand Prix tour event for snowboarding and freeskiing transformed the famed baseball diamond into a winter games playground for the first annual event on Feb. 11 and 12, bringing business to the area that typically experiences less traffic due to the offseason.

DSC_6867The nontraditional event, which housed a 140-foot high jump (seven feet taller than the light towers and over three times the height of the Green Monster – designed in part by Snow Park Technologies) in the middle of Fenway Park, attracted over 27,000 people who withstood freezing temperatures to see Olympic and World Champion athletes from around the globe compete for a grand prize of $150,000.

In bringing this rare event to Boston, it meant businesses in the Fenway and Kenmore area had increased traffic compared to that of the average Thursday and Friday evening in the middle of February.

Hotel Commonwealth worked as the official hotel of Big Air Fenway, housing the athletes and hosting the media breakfast for the event.

In addition, bars and restaurants specifically along Brookline Ave. and Landsdowne St. experienced increased business due to the proximity to the event.

“We were busy for those two days that Big Air Fenway was taking place. It occurred during one of our few slower months so it was great to have it. It’s always great to have any added business,” said Phil Placide, Manager of Cask ’n Flagon.

Placide said that some event participants came to the restaurant to eat, and that the spectacle of having a large ramp in Fenway Park was great. “ Overall the biggest difference that we noticed was our coat check service (for $3) was used a lot more than normal. Those days were frigid and everyone had on large ski parkas.”

As far as the crowd inside the park goes, people came from all over to watch the event.DSC_7004

Sandy Nash, a resident of Carlisle said that it was something different to do on a Friday night. “It’s not everyday that you can go to an event like this, or rather that Fenway would host something like this. And it’s so close, so I thought, why not?” she said.

Fenway resident Jonathan Chang was impressed by the event as well, stating, “I wasn’t able to attend the actual event, but I think it’s so creative to bring something of this grandiose to my neighborhood,” he said.

In addition, Freeskier hosted “Freeskier Fest,” a six stop party tour following the events on Feb. 12 at Tequila Rain nightclub. Athletes, as well as sponsors from companies such as Pret Helmets attended.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) announced that it would host this unique event in collaboration with Fenway Sports Management in September 2015, bringing the top 40 men and 20 women to Boston.  DSC_7807

Fast forward five months—no one thought that the event would fulfill the wild concept that was drafted in the early planning stages.

“We are incredibly excited about this event. What’s great for us is it’s going to showcase Fenway Park on an international stage,” said Mark Lev, managing director at Fenway Sports Management. “I heard earlier that there were athletes representing 25 different countries that will be competing over the next couple of days. And the event is going to be televised in countries around the world.”

DSC_6889Big Air Fenway was the third stop on the International Ski Federation (FIS) Snowboard World Cup Tour and second on The U.S. Grand Prix tour.

After much lobbying by the USSA, the International Olympic  Committee (IOC) approved big air snowboarding as well as an alpine team event for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“We have a history of great partnerships with amazing destination ski resorts and this Fenway event is the epitome of that. Incredibly  innovative, forward-looking group and the content of putting this jump inside Fenway Park, on this hallowed ground is a bodacious concept,” said vice president of events at USSA Calum Clark.

DSC_7050Clark added, “This is an amazing opportunity for the USSA to be in this marketplace—this
is the biggest marketplace for winter sports. To be in a destination, a city like Boston, and to be in an amazing park like Fenway, we have tried to be innovative with Grand Prix supporting new sports and for us to celebrate Big Air as a new Olympic sport by coming to a place like Fenway Park and holding a world cup event is tremendous.”

Julia Marino, who placed first in the women’s snowboarding event talked about the growth of her sport. “It’s cool to bring it to cities like this where people don’t know much about the port, and to kind of put it right in the middle of their home and have them come watch. It’s really cool because it gives them a chance to see what we do, what we work really hard at, and I think it’s a great way to grow the sport,” she said.

It is evident that Big Air helped increase more than just  business around Fenway.

According to Polartec, NBC’s coverage of Big Air was viewed by more people than the X Games, which was hosted in Aspen at the end of January. This makes the event the most viewed USSA event televised in the U.S., with media impressions nearing 80 million.

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Tickets went on sale Nov. 12; prices ranged from $20 for limited and obstructed views to $200 for Pavilion Club level seats, which offered higher, better vantage points. The best vantage point was certainly seen by those athletes who had to drop 38 degrees and clear the 70-foot jump at speeds nearing 40 mph.

Max Parrot took first place in the snowboarding event. “The crowd looked super good from the top of the scaffolding. We were dropping and you could hear the crowd screaming and it was really cool,” he said… “It’s always a good feeling when you hear that. The crowd was amazing. We’re not used to crowds like that.”

DSC_7032Charles Guldemond took the bronze in snowboarding. “I’ve been to three baseball games here and the whole setup and all the work that went into making the jump and then just the whole experience as a rider was kind of a  blessing. I don’t think it could have gone any better,” Guldemond said. “They nailed the jump, every safety issue was taken care of. Everything was perfect.”

As someone who sees Fenway Park frequently, and quite possibly from the best angles, staff photographer for the Boston Red Sox Billie Weiss wasn’t shocked by the amount of people who attended the event.

“Fenway is one of the country’s greatest sporting attractions, whether it’s for baseball, ski jumping, or anything else in between. It’s a destination for sports fans from all around the globe.” Weiss said.