By Zachary Baru
When the University of Massachusetts' football team faced the University of Maine on Saturday at Fenway Park in Boston, the temperature was 36 degrees with 12 mph winds, possibly leading to the low attendance of 12,794.
The game was part of the Fenway Gridiron Series, a five-game football series at Fenway including 3 college football games and two high school games between November 10 and November 22. The series is promoted by Fenway Sports Management, and is yet another attempt to make Fenway Park more than just a baseball stadium for 82 regular season Red Sox games.
Year after year, Fenway has seen an increase in concerts and sporting events, as the Fenway Gridiron Series is an excellent way to make the venue a year-round destination for fans, just as Gillette Stadium and TD Garden is each year.
The big question is, was the less-than anticipated attendance of 12,000-plus strictly because of the weather, or was it something else? UMass for years has been trying to increase their presence throughout the eastern part of the state, playing games at Gillette Stadium and marketing themselves as a team for the entire state. Clearly the end result has been sub-par, as a game against a regional rival in a venue as special as Fenway Park should have had a much bigger crowd.
There has been talk about possibly having more UMass games at Fenway, and even a UMass lacrosse game at the ballpark as well. But with such a low attendance, the chances of more UMass games at Fenway seems questionable.
If the windy, cold weather truly contributed to the lack of fans at Fenway, then possibly UMass Football could make a return visit. For UMass, the goal has long been to market more across the eastern part of the state, where more of the population and larger sponsors are located. Hopefully in the near future UMass sports can find a way to attract larger crowds in the Boston-area, which would only help promote and grow the UMass sports brand.
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.