Facility Roundup: Boston

By Jared Cooper

NFL:

Gillette Stadium (New England Patriots and New England Revolution)

Photo courtesy of AP Images

The Skinny:  As the Foxboro, MA home of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium has been sending fans home happy since 2002. In addition to the two 48’ x 27’ HD screens that hang above each endzone, the stadium’s unique feature is the 12-story lighthouse and a bridge modeled on Boston’s Longfellow Bridge welcoming guests atop the main entrance. The stadium, mid-way between Boston and Providence, is also the main draw of the lifestyle and entertainment center called Patriot Place that features shops, restaurants, a movie theatre, a hotel, and a Patriots and local football Hall of Fame.

Year Opened:  2002

Capacity:  68,756

Best Moments:  The Patriots have hosted and won two AFC Championship Games at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. They defeated the Indianapolis Colts 24-14 in the 2003 AFC Championship Game, and won 21-12 over the San Diego Chargers in the 2007 game. The stadium has also hosted the 2002 MLS Cup and the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships in 2008 and 2009.

MLB:

Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)

Photo courtesy of MLB.com

The Skinny:  Boston’s Fenway Park is the oldest ballpark in baseball and one of the most iconic stadiums in all of the country. The 37-foot high Green Monster is as well known as the ivy covered outfield walls of Wrigley Field, and yes, they still use the manual scoreboard. In 2008, Fenway Park sold out for the 456th consecutive time, breaking the Major League record. It has since extended that streak past 600, and has sold out every game since May 15, 2003. The Boston Braves actually won the World Series playing at Fenway in 1914, the Boston Patriots of the AFL played here from 1963-68, and the 2010 NHL Winter Classic was held on a rink built atop Fenway’s famous field.

Year Opened:  1912

Capacity:  37,402

Best Moment:  October 18, 2004. It is exceedingly difficult to pinpoint the best moment in the nearly 100-year history of this ballpark, but it is hard to top Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS. After trailing the New York Yankees three games to zero in the series, David Ortiz hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning of Game 4, setting up his 14th inning game-winning single in Game 5. The Red Sox would go on to win Games 6 and 7 at Yankee Stadium, completing the biggest comeback in playoff history and winning their first World Series since 1918.

NBA/NHL:

TD Garden (Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins)

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The Skinny:  The TD Garden opened in 1995 replacing the historic Boston Garden. It brought with it a parquet floor for the Boston Celtics, one of the two arenas in the NBA with the surface (Amway Center, Orlando Magic). Also calling the arena home are the Boston Bruins, who annually share the rink with the Hockey East conference tournament and the traditional Beanpot Tournament. Renovations in 2006-07 brought in a new HD board and video advertising panels. The arena also features the Sports Museum of New England, focusing on the history of Boston sports.

Year Opened:  1995

Capacity:  18,624 for basketball; 17,565 for hockey

Best Moment:  June 17, 2008. The Celtics defeated their heated rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals. Their 39-point margin of victory in the 131-92 win was the highest-ever for a championship-clinching game, and it extended the Celtics’ record of championships to 17, most in NBA history.

College Football:

Alumni Stadium (Boston College Eagles)

The Skinny:  Located in Chestnut Hill, only six miles from Boston’s city center, Alumni Stadium offers some nice views of the Boston skyline, helping to improve the gameday experience. A mid-90s renovation modernized the stadium with a new brick and glass exterior façade, better concessions, improved lighting and two high-resolution Daktronics scoreboards.

Year Opened:  1957

Capacity:  44,500

Golden Arms:  Boston College fans were treated to two of the best quarterbacks to come out of college in the past 25+ years. In 1984, Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie took the nation by storm and became the first college quarterback to throw for over 10,000 career yards. In 2007, Manning Award winner Matt Ryan led the Eagles to as high as the #2 ranking in the country en route to an ACC title. He was named ACC Offensive Player of the Year and winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award.

Harvard Stadium (Harvard Crimson)

Photo courtesy of GoCrimson.com

The Skinny:  Harvard Stadium is the nation’s oldest permanent concrete stadium, and with the Boston skyline and location on the Charles River, it is among the finest in all of college football. It is considered an engineering marvel, containing elements of a Greek stadium and Roman circus, and it was the first permanent arena for American college athletics.

Year Opened:  1903

Capacity:  30,323

Unintended Innovation: Because of the close proximity of the fans to the field, when the football rules committee met to discuss changes to the game to make it safer, it was suggested the field should be widened by 40 feet. That idea would require considerable renovations to Harvard Stadium, so instead the forward pass was legalized.

Yale Bowl (Yale Bulldogs)

The Skinny:  The Yale Bowl in New Haven, CT is a college football landmark. It was the first stadium with seating that completely surrounded the field and offers every seat an unobstructed view; it was the inspiration for stadiums over the next 100 years that have been built with seats encircling the stadium. The Bowl, which hosted the New York Giants during the 1973 and 1974 seasons while Yankee Stadium was being renovated and Giants Stadium was being built, was named as one of the 40 best college football stadiums by The Sporting News in its book “Saturday Shrines.”

Year Opened:  1914

Capacity:  61,446

National Recognition: The Yale Bowl is recognized as a National Historic Landmark and is one of just three athletic arenas to be so designated. Harvard Stadium (built in 1903) and the Rose Bowl (built in 1922) are the other two.

Rentschler Field (UConn Huskies)

The Skinny:  Rentschler Field is home to the emerging Big East power UConn Huskies, as well as the United Football League’s Hartford Colonials. It also hosts rugby games, U.S. Men’s National Team soccer matches and concerts. In addition, in February 2011 it will host the Whalers Hockey Fest, with a rink built on top of the field in the mold of the NHL Winter Classic. More than five games and a number of events will take place over the course of a week and a half at Rentschler Field.

Year Opened:  2003

Capacity:  40,000

What Could Have Been:  In the mid-1990s the New England Patriots had considered moving to Connecticut and sharing a stadium with UConn on the Connecticut Convention Center site. Instead, the deal fell through in 1999 and they built Gillette Stadium. UConn scaled down its plans before building Rentschler Field in East Hartford in 2003.

College Basketball:

Conte Forum (Boston College Eagles)

Photo courtesy of BCEagles.com

The Skinny:  Adjacent to Alumni Stadium, Conte Forum houses the BC men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as their prominent ice hockey teams. As the largest indoor stadium on the campus, it also holds major events and concerts, such as the Boston Pops Orchestra during a gala that raises nearly $2M annually for the school’s academic scholarship fund.

Year Opened:  1988

Capacity:  8,606

Impressive On-Ice:  The BC Eagles have won three of the past 10 hockey national championships, treating the fans at Conte Forum to some spectacular hockey. They won in 2001, 2008 and 2010 under head coach Jerry York. Their first title was led by head coach John “Snooks” Kelley, making it appropriate that the rink at Conte is called Kelley Rink.

Gampel Pavilion (UConn Huskies)

The Skinny: Because Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma have racked up so many banners for conference titles and NCAA championships, Gampel Pavilion instead features large boards on the walls to commemorate their achievements. The arena in Storrs, CT is the largest on-campus arena in New England, but the Huskies often play roughly eight home games per year here, with the rest of their slate played at the XL Center in Hartford.

Year Opened:  1997

Capacity:  10,167

Home Court Advantage:  The UConn men’s team has accumulated a 133-18 record at Gampel Pavilion (through the 2009-10 season), and the women’s team is currently working on a 88+ game winning streak overall. Needless to say, the basketball program at UConn is quite strong, and Gampel Pavilion is not a venue where the Huskies often lose.

Dunkin’ Donuts Center (Providence Friars)

The Skinny:  Then known as the Providence Civic Center, this arena opened in 1972, but underwent an $80M renovation in 2008 that will ensure it stays the home of Providence basketball and the AHL Providence Bruins for many years to come. As part of the renovation the arena got a new scoreboard and sound system, new concession stands and locker rooms, and the addition of luxury boxes.

Year Opened:  1972

Capacity:  13,106 for basketball; 11,940 for hockey

Immediate Success:  Led by coach Dave Gavitt and big man Marvin Barnes, Providence made the Final Four in 1972-73, the first year of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. They would return in 1986-87 led by head coach Rick Pitino and guard Billy Donovan, who would later lead Florida to two straight titles as head coach.

Miscellaneous:

XL Center

The Skinny:  The XL Center (formerly the Hartford Civic Center) has been the ‘second home’ for the University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball programs since 1976 and 1980, respectively. After the roof collapsed in 1978, the arena was closed for renovation and repair and re-opened in 1980 with the Hartford Whalers taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Connecticut Whale (formerly the Hartford Wolf Pack) of the AHL still call the XL Center home, keeping alive the memory of Whalers hockey in the region.

Year Opened:  1975; reopened in 1980

Capacity:  16,294 for basketball; 15,635 for hockey

Famous Tenants:  In addition to being a part-time home of the UConn basketball programs, the XL Center was the part-time home of the Boston Celtics from 1975 to 1995 and the NHL’s Hartford Whalers from 1975 to 1997. It also hosted the 1986 NHL All-Star Game, the 1982 Big East men’s basketball tournament, and a number of Big East women’s basketball tournaments.

2 Responses to “Facility Roundup: Boston”

  1. Perry Henne says:

    I Love your website. I’m gonna post a link on my MySpace Page!

  2. T says:

    Great inforormation but some of it is incorrect. i was reading about the BC men’s hockey team and all three national championships have been won under head coach Jerry York (BC grad). John Kelly led BC to their first national championship in 1949.

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