BOSTON — It’s just past noon and fans are lining up along Yawkey Way to get into Fenway Park. The first pitch is seven hours away, but that’s not really an issue because this Boston Red Sox game, like the 597 before it, is sold out.

These fans are waiting to tour the ballpark, paying $12 apiece to see the Green Monster without Ted Williams or Yaz or even Daniel Nava patrolling the grass in front. In all, almost 350,000 people will pass through the turnstiles this year without seeing a baseball game.

The oldest ballpark in the major leagues, Fenway is approaching its 100th birthday with what could be its busiest year, starting on New Year’s Day with the NHL Winter Classic and continuing tonight with “Football at Fenway,” a soccer match between European clubs Glasgow Celtic and Sporting Lisbon of Portugal.

“We think Fenway Park is a great place to go in the summer with the kids,” said Sam Kennedy, the Red Sox executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We’re in the business of selling the brand of baseball, but the soccer crowd is an opportunity for 30,000 new people to experience Fenway Park.”

Officials from the soccer clubs exchanged jerseys Tuesday night and posed for pictures with the 2004 and ’07 World Series trophies. Behind them, a soccer pitch was laid out over the baseball diamond, with the goals along the third-base line and in front of the bullpens in right field; sod had been placed over the infield dirt and where the pitcher’s mound would be.

“For me, it’s a dream to be at Fenway Park,” said Celtic commercial director Adrian Filby, who in a thick Scottish accent rattled off references to Teddy Ballgame and the Curse of the Bambino. “I’ve been telling them all about Fenway. These guys get it. When they walked in they could see the history of the park. They could see how special this place is.”

The Sporting football director, Francisco Costa, said he knew little about baseball before arriving in Boston.
“It’s impressive,” he said. “You feel some kind of magic here.”

Since the ownership group led by John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino bought the team in 2002, the Red Sox have given Fenway a makeover, putting seats atop the Green Monster, turning Yawkey Way into a plaza on game days and modernizing the ballpark from waterproofing to wheelchair accessibility.

During that span, the ballclub also has won two World Series and reached the playoffs in all but two seasons while selling out every game since May 15, 2003, a record streak that reached 600 on Sunday.

The success on and off the field left them looking for other ways to expand their business. And they realized that the most underutilized asset they had was the “lyric little bandbox of a ballpark” that was christened the same week in 1912 that the Titanic sank.

“Immediately after we got here, we recognized that there was this great facility sitting here year-round that we controlled and operated,” said Kennedy, who also serves as president of the business spinoff Fenway Sports Group. “We have the luxury of looking at new opportunities because our core business is so strong. But we never take our focus away from the core business.”

They have held concerts, starting with Bruce Springsteen in 2003, and also including groups like The Rolling Stones and, next month, Aerosmith. They have brought in their minor- league affiliates for a “Futures at Fenway” date, hosted the Cape Cod League All-Star game and turned the field to the colleges in the Baseball Beanpot.

More than 30,000 tickets have been sold for tonight’s match, helped by the strong draw from the Portuguese community around New England. Corporate sponsorships also have been strong, Kennedy said.

“It was a big risk: Soccer is not Bruce Springsteen; it’s not the Winter Classic,” he said. “From an artistic perspective, obviously a sellout crowd would be great. But not everything needs to be a sellout to be a success.”