Across from Fenway Park, next to the historic House of Blues, the new MGM Music Hall at Fenway has carved out its own space in the neighborhood — hopefully, founders said at the venue’s grand opening Monday, an “iconic” new piece of Boston culture.
“Almost three years ago our group gathered in this very spot to break ground on this venue. It was a cold November morning; we stood in what was an empty triangular parking lot, a service yard for Fenway, and took photos shoveling mounds of dirt while trying to imagine what this space might become,” said Sam Kennedy, Red Sox CEO. “My imagination back then could not fully visualize how amazing this would turn out.”
Kennedy gestured out to the 5,000-seat four-story space curved around the stage, mostly empty and lit by glaring spotlights.
Despite the size, the space was designed to feel “intimate,” said Don Law, president of Live Nation — New England. The farthest seat sits only 110 feet from the stage.
“Acoustically and visually you’re standing at Boston’s most amazing musical venue,” said John Henry, Fenway Sports Group owner, excitement visible.
That excitement was echoed throughout the opening, focusing on the venue’s aesthetic connection to Fenway Park, or the partnership with the neighboring Boston Arts Academy, or the economic benefit of the structure — it’s projected to bring millions to local businesses and create 80 full-time and 450 part-time jobs, Mayor Michelle Wu noted.
The space was conceived with “key synergy,” Fenway district City Councilor Kenzie Bok said, as an international state-of-the-art venue and a place for young students and locals to launch their careers.
Wu said founders committed to allow students theater access and opportunities, as well as hosting speakers and community groups.
Locals christened the stage Monday afternoon, with event emcee Michelle Brooks-Thompson first deftly belting out “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and Boston Arts Academy alumni later weaving an a capella “When I Fall in Love.”
More than 60 artists are already in line for the venue. The first concert will feature Massachusetts natives Godsmack on Aug. 27, with proceeds going to cancer and mental health charities.
James Taylor and Chris Stapleton will follow in the venue’s first week open. September will see several more giant artists including Bruno Mars, Rosalia and Little Nas X.