PawSox: An Alternative to Fenway for Boston Kids
Watching the Red Sox play at Fenway can be a magical experience. But when you’re bringing young children, it can turn into something, well, less than magical. Instead of being awe-inspiring, the massive and crowded stadium might be terrifying to your little one. You end up leaving before the end of the first inning or spending the entire game at the overpriced concession stands. That’s a whole lotta moolah down the drain.
There is one day a year when you can experience the magic of watching a game at Fenway without breaking the bank: Futures at Fenway. For the rest of baseball season, there's the Pawtucket Red Sox (PawSox), welcoming Boston families to their home stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Read on for 5 reasons to go to a PawSox game, plus 5 tips for getting the most out of the experience.
5 Reasons to go to a PawSox Game:
1. Sometimes less is more. For my family, going to watch the PawSox play in a minor league ball game at McCoy Stadium was one of those times. Sure, the Boston Red Sox are a big deal, and every Bostonian should experience Fenway at some point. But with the PawSox, the stadium is smaller and more manageable with kids. The price of tickets, at $6-9 for General Admission and $13 for Box Seats, is less – a lot less. There's free parking, so that’s less, too. Avoiding the hordes of fans packed into the T is certainly less hassle. See what I mean? Less is more.
2. A sense of community. I was worried about showing up decked out in our Boston Red Sox gear, but there was no need for concern: Although I saw a good amount of PawSox fan wear, there was plenty of Boston pride in that stadium, too. And even though it was clear that many of the fans were locals who had been to more than a few PawSox games, we felt welcome and right at home. We did the wave and laughed along with everyone else at the antics of the mascots, Paws and Sox. And much to my kids’ chagrin, I felt comfortable enough to belt out Sweet Caroline with the other adults during the seventh inning stretch.
3. The rules of the park. Before the start of the game, the PawSox players tell us the Rules of the Park in a video. It sets the tone and makes it clear that things like roughhousing, offensive and/or vulgar clothing, noisemakers, and smoking are not allowed inside the stadium. As a parent, I really appreciate those rules.
4. Kids get star treatment. From the first pitch, it was clear that the kids were the stars of the show. We saw children in interviews and on candid camera, having pictures taken with the mascots, and starting the celebration by saying, “play ball” on the mike. There are special promotions during certain home games when they give out swag especially for kids, like mini bats and school supplies. There is a special area with picnic tables and inflatable pitching and batting stations, which is used by birthday parties before the game, and is open to all kids once the game starts.
5. Concessions. There are a variety of food options at reasonable prices (for a ballpark, anyway). Our favorites were the giant freeze pops and a generous helping of ice cream in a souvenir cap.
5 Tips for getting the most out of the experience with your family:
1. Get there early. Gates open 90 minutes before the game, and there are plenty of good reasons to get there a little on the early side:
- Free parking is available, but limited. You’ll want to get there early to snag a free spot at McCoy Stadium. You can also park for free along either side of Division Street, Ashton Street or Delta Drive.
- Prior to game time, fans have the opportunity to get player autographs by the dugout areas, but you need to return to your seats 30 minutes prior to the start of the game.
- At Kids Club games, Kids Club Members can go to the Fan Center (up to one hour before to the start of the game) and sign up for a drawing to say "Play Ball" on the field prior to the start of the game.
2. Stay awhile after the game. In addition to the obvious benefit of avoiding the sea of fans leaving the stadium, there are other perks of sticking around: Autographs after the game (just hang out outside the players’ entrance, which is located outside the bottom of the home plate exit ramp) and kids getting to run the bases after every Sunday home game.
3. Use your AAA Member benefits. Get your tickets from AAA for even better ticket prices.
4. Choose a game day when there is a special event. The PawSox have some great promotions. Two of my favorite special promotions are the Peanut Free Allergy Night, when peanut products are not sold anywhere throughout the ballpark, and the nights when they have fireworks after the game. The fireworks are pretty spectacular (but bring earplugs for the little ones!).
If you have a young baseball star in your house, you might want to make a day of it and start at 2pm with a PawSox Free Youth Clinic on certain dates (see schedule). It runs until 3:15pm and is followed by a game that night at 6:05 pm. (Buy tickets for the game in advance).
5. If the weather is nice (not wet), sit on the berm. Bring a blanket and stretch out on the grass. Little ones will have more freedom to move around while you enjoy the game.
Originally published July 2013; updated April 2015