James Taylor use to play Fenway Park. Now he’ll be taking his act across the street, to the MGM Music Hall at Fenway.

The 5,000-seat music venue, located behind the right-field bleachers at the intersection of Lansdowne and Ipswich Street, had its grand opening Monday night. The new concert hall gives off a polished vibe, with high ceilings and great acoustics — catering to the high-profile clientele they’ve already booked, including James Taylor, Bruno Mars and Lil Nas X. Godsmack will christen the venue with its first official show, a benefit concert, next week.

The interior of a large music venue, lit in purple and blue . The main floor is full of people standing and sitting at tables, above them are two tiers of stadium seats. the mood is festive
Inside MGM Music Hall at Fenway
Jacob Garcia GBH News

MGM Fenway is a joint venture between concert promoter Live Nation and Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox and Fenway Park. At a sprawling 91,500 square feet, on four levels, MGM Fenway is also the second large-scale music venue to open in Boston this year.

“To be able to put MGM’s name on this music hall — in, frankly, my favorite city in the world — really is amazing,” Paul Salem, MGM Resorts’ board chair, said at Monday night’s celebration.

The second opening in less than six months prompts the question if Boston’s arts scene is ready to support two new major venues while it’s still licking its pandemic-inflicted wounds. But local experts overwhelmingly told GBH News that, even though there’s competition, success generates success.

Roadrunner, which offers 3,500 seats in Brighton, turned the lights on in March. Josh Bhatti, vice president for The Bowery Presents — which owns Roadrunner, the Sinclair and the Royale — told GBH News it doesn’t create a threat for other venues. “I think getting people going out to more shows and having more options, a place to go see music, is a good thing,” Bhatti said.

Bhatti pointed out that Boston has long been underserved in venues at most capacity sizes, but especially in the 2,000- to 5,000-seat range. Roadrunner and MGM Fenway are not only bridging that gap, they’re bringing in more artists.

“Knowing that an artist only has so many days to run a tour — in the past they would sometimes have to skip Boston if there weren’t the right options,” he said. “Having these options now is good and will help serve the artists, which is what we do.”

But he did recognize the nature of the business. “There’ll be some shows that we’ll compete for that will go to MGM, and vice versa,” he said.

When asked what distingushes the venues, Bhatti said, “The James Taylors of the world are well served by having a room like MGM where the demographic wants comfortable seats to sit and watch to watch the show. I think Roadrunner maybe caters to a demographic that likes to, you know, stand and watch the show. I do think it caters to two different fan bases.”

While fans have more to choose from, can Boston’s music scene sustain another large-capacity venue?

A large group dressed in suits and dresses stands in a line, each snipping a golden ribbon with their own pair of ceremonial scissors
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu joins community members, officials and executives like Red Sox owner John Henry at the grand opening of MGM Music Hall at Fenway on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022.
Jacob Garcia GBH News

Two years ago, when Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency, live performance venues were among the first in the arts and culture sector to feel the effects. According to the Mass Cultural Council, the state’s arts and culture sector took a $588 million hit in the year following COVID-19 shutdowns. So, do the emergence of venues like Roadrunner and MGM Fenway signify a recovering arts and culture scene? And can smaller venues coexist in this new entertainment ecosystem?

“I believe attending arts-related events is so personally enriching that it begets more participation in cultural activities,” Michael J. Bobbit, executive director of the Mass Cultural Council, wrote in an email to GBH News. “Mass Cultural Council welcomes this new venue to Boston’s music scene and hopes for its success. Further, I hope they will be engaged and collaborative partners in advancing the overall work of the cultural sector in Massachusetts.”

"With clubs and live music clubs, the rising tide floats all boats."
Ralph Jaccodine, a professor of music business and management at Berklee College of Music

Ralph Jaccodine, a professor of music business and management at Berklee College of Music, agreed. After attending MGM Fenway’s grand opening Monday, he said, “With clubs and live music clubs, the rising tide floats all boats. The littler venues and the listening rooms, I feel like they’re strong because the environment here in Boston for music — and live music — is strong.”

Jaccodine also emphasizes that these venues are good for students and musicians who are starting out. “I saw several of my students and former students from Berkelee that have jobs there. So whether they’re taking tickets or bartending or security or something like that, it’s hiring a lot of people. Students go on to get jobs at Roadrunner or the Sinclair or the House of Blues, and now MGM.”

A singer stands on the center of the stage which is lit in dark reds and gold.  His arms are outstretched, his head is bowed down. A  timbal percussionist, a trumpet player,  and a singer are in the background.
Local musician SBM performs live at the MGM Music Hall at Fenway opening night with band Orquesta. Seen in this photo: Miguel Martinez (Timbal Percussion), Eric Ortiz (Singer) & Miguel Ríos (Trumpet)
Jacob Garcia GBH News

Salsa musician Sebastian Medina was among the Berklee students not just attending the grand opening but performing at it. “As a vocal musician, you know, I’m pretty excited about the venue,” said Medina, who goes by the stage name SBM. “It's a very great place for a lot of musicians and young artists to check out the new shows.

“I’m playing my own music, people were into it,” he added. “I felt like it was fresh, it was a different environment. People loved it.”

Standing outside of the venue, away from the immediate fanfare of the grand opening, was Susan Robinson, a tour guide for Boston Duck Tours. Her take on another music venue in Boston? “I think it's awesome. Bring it on. There's nothing like more ways for us, for musicians, to entertain the general public. The more the merrier.”