Want to sleep over at professional baseball's oldest stadium? Fenway Park is the latest host to take to accommodation-sharing website Airbnb. But the room isn't for whoever can open their wallet the fastest, but who can write a winning essay. Fenway is "hosting" whomever can pen the most compelling reason why a sleepover at the stadium is a personal dream.
This will be the first overnight guest Fenway Park has hosted in the park's 103-year history – as far as they know, or will admit. The winner and a guest will be given a tour of the stadium by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, and will get tickets to watch the home game against the New York Yankees on Sept. 2 from the Green Monster, among other perks, before retiring to a private suite above the third base line.
The contest to win a sleepover in Fenway Park is a solid publicity stunt for a team that is ranked last in the American League, and could stand to play up its reputation. And for Airbnb, heightening its profile and fostering some goodwill in Red Sox Nation is likely a safe bet as the peer-to-peer economy faces pushback from traditional companies and taxpayers in cities nationwide.
In July, Hillary Clinton hit a nerve when she called for a hard look at the sharing economy while out on the campaign trail, identifying stagnant wages as the "defining economic challenge of our time."
"Many Americans are making extra money renting out spare rooms, designing websites, selling products that they designed themselves at home, or even driving their own car,” she said. But as the on-demand economy “creat[es] exciting opportunities and unleash[es] innovation,” Clinton said, “it’s also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”
What Clinton is trying to do is "start a very serious conversation about this important and growing part of our economy that is adding innovation and opportunity and excitement, frankly, but is also raising challenges and questions,” senior Clinton policy adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. “And she wants that to be a conversation that she has in Silicon Valley, in Washington, and everywhere in between."
The conversation is taking shape, but so far on a local level. Last month, San Francisco opened a new municipal office to regulate the registration of landlords and investigate violations of short-term rentals, in large part to police Airbnb hosts. Such rentals were not allowed in the city for a long time, until a new law took effect in February mandating short-term hosts (any stay under 30 days) must be permanent residents and are required to obtain a business license, register with the Planning Department, pay a hotel tax, and occupy the property when not renting it out for at least 60 consecutive days. Portland, Ore. and Malibu, Calif. have also started working with Airbnb to collect the so-called transient occupancy tax.
In Boston, there has been no such regulation. Earlier this month, the Boston Business Journal reported that Airbnb is the cheapest way to stay in the Hub; Fenway now included.