Dedicated in 2004, with its first event taking place in 2005, Agganis Arena is the home of the Boston University Terriers men’s ice hockey team, and occasionally hosts men’s basketball games as well. Agganis holds 6,224 for hockey and replaced the 1970s-era, 3,806-seat Walter Brown Arena, itself now home to the BU women’s ice hockey program.
The arena is named after Harry Agganis, “The Golden Greek”, a multi-sport athlete best known during his BU career as a star quarterback who later spurned the NFL to play first base for the Boston Red Sox. He unexpectedly died in 1955 of a pulmonary embolism at age 26 and is today considered one of the greatest all-around athletes in Terriers history, if not the greatest.
In addition to hosting Terrier athletics, Agganis has carved a niche for itself as a premier multipurpose facility, regularly holding concerts, shows, and other major events considered too small for Boston’s primary arena, the TD Garden.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The range of food options offered at Agganis is unmatched by any college facility I've ever visited, and surpasses that of many professional teams as well. The arena features six fixed stands and several kiosks around the concourse, keeping wait times down except during intermissions. However, there's really no way around it other than to be blunt: concessions here are expensive, especially by college standards.
A partial list of food options by stand include:
"Commonwealth Concessions": Roast turkey sandwich ($6.75), chicken caesar wrap ($5.75), nachos ($5), loaded/regular baked potato ($4.75/$4.25), Nathan's hot dog ($3.75), popcorn ($3.75/$3.25), candy ($3.75), pretzel ($3.25).
"Terrier Grill": Crab cake sliders ($8.25), buffalo chicken tenders ($6.25), sliders ($6), chicken fingers ($5.75), Italian sausage ($4.50), seasoned fries ($3.75).
"North End Pizza": Mediterranean/Garden salad ($6.25/$5.25), chicken Parmesan/spinach and cheese calzone ($5.75), cheese/pepperoni pizza ($4.75).
"Terrier Town": Buffalo chicken flatbread sandwich ($6), Italian flatbread sandwich ($6), fried dough ($5.50), cheesy fries ($4), fried oreos ($4.50), Cracker Jacks ($3), cotton candy ($3), candy apples ($4).
Kiosks include a carved sandwich station, one for baked desserts, and another featuring other sweets.
Beverage selections include fountain soda ($3.75), water ($3.75), Snapple/Nantucket Nectars ($3.75), coffee ($3.25), and hot chocolate ($3.25).
One thing that sets Agganis apart from most other college facilities is that the arena does sell beer and wine, with a limit of one beverage per ID per transaction. Not only is it available, there is actually a decent selection, with Sam Adams, Harpoon, Guinness, and Anchor Steam all on offer, along with Bud and Bud Light ($7.50 premium/$6.50 domestic, $6.25 wine).
Agganis Arena is the newest and arguably, "nicest", arena in Hockey East at least in terms of fan comfort and amenities. Despite the opulence and luxury, however, the game experience is refreshingly no-frills: the product on the ice is unquestionably the focus.
Interestingly, Agganis is the only arena I've reviewed to this point that feels like it has a larger capacity than it actually does. The arena's seating bowl consists almost exclusively of plush theater-style seats, all of which have cup-holders. The top of the bowl is ringed by 29 private suites (some rented on a per-game basis), a large press box, broadcast booths, and a party deck overlooking one goal that holds up to 20 people. The concourse also opens up to a clear view of the ice above the other goal, and the area is sometimes used for standing-room only tickets.
Even though the BU men's basketball team sometimes plays its higher-profile games here, Agganis is clearly the home of hockey at Boston University. One only needs to look to the paw prints painted into the red line of the Jack Parker Rink or the banners hanging from the rafters (in addition to those representing the schools of Hockey East) to confirm this: five for NCAA championships, seven for Hockey East titles, four for ECAC titles, two listing the years of Beanpot victories, and one each for Hockey East regular season crowns, NCAA Frozen Four appearances, Hobey Baker Award winners, and the all-time Terriers points leader.
A four-sided color scoreboard with video boards hangs above center ice, while secondary scoreboards can be found on the wall behind each net, and ribbon boards (mostly displaying ads) line the side walls near the ceiling. During play, game action is shown on the video boards.
Agganis was half-full at the puck drop of this particular game, with one side almost completely filled and the other at 40-50%. Similarly, the main student section was close to capacity while the secondary was slightly less so. Attendance was ultimately announced at 4,799, which covered a wide age range including a large number of alumni and former players, some families and children, and a few but not many away fans. Nearly all students and at least ⅓ of everyone else rooting for the Terriers were wearing BU jerseys.
Very little that could be called "gimmicky" goes on at Agganis outside of an elaborate (spotlight/loud music/video board) starting lineup introduction for home team. Unlike many other venues, there are no cheesy efforts to artificially coax people into making noise. Using the same sedate tone that he uses to announce goals, power plays, and penalties, longtime PA announcer Jim Prior begins every game with his catchphrase: "The teams are ready, so let's play hockey." Once games start, the crowd is basically left to its own devices in terms of revving itself up and responding to action on the ice. No foghorn is sounded to celebrate BU goals. Recorded music is not used during playing periods. Instead, the excellent pep band greets the Terriers onto the ice at the beginning of each period with "Shipping Up To Boston", and plays a wide range of contemporary and "crowd favorite" music at each stoppage.
Stoppages and intermissions are more-or-less what one would expect at this caliber of venue. Trivia questions and crowd shots on the video boards were common diversions during stoppages. On at least one occasion, t-shirts were thrown into the crowd as a giveaway during a mid-period break. As with many college and minor-league teams, the first intermission featured a pee-wee game that the crowd rather enjoyed. A dance contest took place during the second intermission, with the winner taking home a digital video camera.
Agganis is located on the western side of BU's Commonwealth Avenue campus. Although the area is not overflowing with variety in terms of food and drink options, there are plenty of places to grab a bite and/or a beverage in the immediate area.
The best bet for most is likely to be the Sunset Cantina, a sit-down bar/restaurant located directly across from the arena, which features a wide-ranging menu that has something for everybody as well as an extensive tequila and beer selection. Other full-service choices include Victoria Seafood (Chinese), Brown Sugar (Thai), Kayuga (Japanese), and Saray (Turkish).
Two other nearby bars are T's Pub (which also serves food) and the next-door Paradise Lounge.
Some quick food options include, but are not limited to: Upper Crust (pizza), T. Anthony's (pizza), Qdoba (Mexican), Chipotle (Mexican), UBurger, Panera (sandwiches), Raising Cain's (chicken), and the Super 88 food court (multiple Asian cuisines).
Everything listed above is located on Commonwealth Avenue. Many further options are available in the Kenmore Square and Allston Village areas, both of which are a short drive/train ride away or moderate walk.
Hockey has unquestionably been king at Boston University for decades, and the school eliminating its football program after the 1997 season served only to further cement this status. Consequently, all of the fan spirit and energy that might be channeled into football, basketball, or even baseball elsewhere is almost exclusively directed towards the hockey team.
Broadly, Terriers fans are extremely knowledgeable, passionate, and generally exhibit the kind of behavior one would expect from a dedicated bunch. Hard hits are met with loud cheers, missed chances and blown calls result in audible frustration, and a score flash indicating a lead for hated Boston College brings out the boos.
Fans basically can be divided into two categories: BU students, especially the die-hard majority who make up the student section known as the Dog Pound, and everybody else. In the interest of full disclosure, I attended BU as an undergraduate so I may well be biased. That said, I never went to hockey games when I actually went to school there so I'd like to think that I have a pretty clear view of the landscape. I can say, therefore, that I honestly believe the Dog Pound is the best cheering section in all of Hockey East. Despite having a tendency to cross over to the obnoxious with some regularity, their exuberance and maintenance of tradition year after year is nothing short of amazing.
For this game, there were approximately 250 people in the main student section, perhaps 100 in secondary, with others scattered throughout.
Much of what goes on in the Dog Pound is highly ritualized and permeates the entire atmosphere at Agganis. It starts during introductions, when the entire group stands, turns its back to the ice, and waves its fingers in the air, turning around to point and taunt each opposing starter as his name is announced, culminating in a repeated chant of "sieve" directed at the goaltender (this is a recurring theme). When the BU goalie is introduced, the entire group bows repeatedly towards him, and this occurs again basically any time he makes a good save. As soon as the puck is dropped, chanting begins, often "Let's Go Terriers!" (repeated often throughout the game), followed by goalie taunting (also repeated). Many chants, although they follow the familiar *clap clap clapclapclap* cadence, are either opponent-specific or improvised based on the situation. Chants between the two halves of the Dog Pound are sometimes in unison, sometimes not, and sometimes play off each side.
Every Terriers power play features constant clapping by the Dog Pound (with insults to Boston College peppered in at regular intervals, whether the Eagles are the opponent or not). Similarly, whenever BU is shorthanded, students clap and sing the "Olé" song known to soccer fans around the world for the duration of the penalty. Terrier goals are greeted by a rendition of the BU fight song then an involved taunt-the-opposing-goalie routine. Each goal conceded to an opponent is followed by an immediate, sustained chant of "Go BU!", accompanied by the snare drummer.
There is also quite a bit of interplay between the Dog Pound and the BU pep band, which is set up at the top of their section. A few songs, notably "Apache" (aka "Jump On It", popularized by Sugar Hill Gang) have dance routines attached to them. Many others are bellowed by the entire group, including "Living on a Prayer" and "Never Going to Give You Up".
It's fairly safe to say that the non-student crowd was somewhat detached on this particular evening unless something significant was occurring. The crowd grew more listless over the course of the game, a back-and forth affair that the Terriers eventually lost on an open-netter with a minute to play, Half the crowd took off immediately afterward.
Agannis, part of the John Hancock Student Village, is steps away from both the St. Paul and Pleasant Street stops on the "B" branch of the MBTA Green Line.
Driving to the arena is fairly easy by Boston standards. From the north or south on I-93, take the Storrow Drive exit and then exit Storrow at Kenmore Square. Turn right onto Beacon Street at the traffic light, then merge onto Commonwealth Avenue in the square. Drive west approximately one mile until reaching the arena, which will be on the right. Coming from the west on the Mass Pike (I-90), take the Allston/Brighton/Cambridge exit, follow signs for Cambridge, then enter Storrow Drive eastbound next to the DoubleTree Hotel. Take the Boston University exit, turn right onto Commonwealth Avenue at the stop sign, then drive approximately 1/3 of a mile to the arena.
Parking is available for hockey games at the arena itself for $12 in garages as well as nearby surface lots. On-street parking (some metered during daytime hours) may also be found on Commonwealth Avenue and on the side streets across Comm. Ave. from the arena in neighboring Brookline.
Agganis features an ample number of restrooms of varying sizes, with several having signs directing fans to lesser-used facilities to avoid lines.
While nothing is egregiously overpriced at Agganis, you will find yourself paying prices for just about everything that are far more in line with a minor league team than a typical college program.
Individual game ticket prices are as follows (depending on location): $24/$26 for the general public, $16/$19 for BU Faculty, staff, and students not holding a Sports Pass, and $15/$18 per ticket for groups of 30 or more.
BU undergraduates who have activated their Sports Pass option are eligible for up to two complimentary tickets per home game (one per BU ID), subject to availability. Those with an upgraded Sports Pass are guaranteed tickets for every game.
Agganis features a well-stocked merchandise stand located on the main concourse at the top of the east staircase from the entry foyer. A wide variety of team gear is available at every game.
In a nod to program history, much of the concourse wall behind the north goal is covered with individual photos of every Terrier who went on to play in the NHL. A similar display of BU Hockey All-Americans can be found on the wall of the western side of the concourse.
Being a Buffalo Sabres season ticket holder in 2014/15 NHL season meant I was paying, in reality, for the future. The future which consisted of either Erie Otters OHL phenom (and now Edmonton Oiler) Connor McDavid, or the young men my brothers, sister, and I came to see...Connor Hurley and Cal Petersen of Notre Dame.
I kid, of course, while seeing other Sabres prospects is always awesome, we came to see the NCAA point leader and eventual Hobey Baker winner, and the Sabres selection at #2 overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Jack Eichel. And boy did he not disappoint. An amazing move to walk a defenseman to setup a BU goal.
The arena itself is gorgeous, better than some of the AHL arenas I've seen. There truly is no experience quite like college hockey, with the chants unique to each team. I highly recommend making a visit to Agganis, especially if the game is against an opponent the calibre of BC or Notre Dame.
916 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
1029 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
1033 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215
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