Dunkin Donuts Center (map it)
One LaSalle Sq
Providence , RI 02903
Year Opened: 1972
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Jonah Berman, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
It doesn't get much more New England than the Dunkin' Donuts Center - the name says it all. Suffice it to say you won't find Starbucks in here. A solid all-around venue with not too many frills, the place has what you need as a fan, no more, no less. In Boston you've got your tourists and fair-weather fans; in Providence, you avoid the "just-there-to-be-seen" crowd and find yourself surrounded by other folks who are simply there to take in the game. The Providence College Friars basketball program has had its share of glory days, including the 1987 Rick Pitino-coached final four team (featuring Billy Donovan at point guard), as well as a Big East championship in 1994 and an Elite Eight trip in 1997. While the program has not been to the NCAA tournament since 2004, when they were led by current Los Angeles Clipper Ryan Gomes, they remain a popular attraction in the Ocean State.
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Options at "The Dunk" are par for the course for stadium food. You've got your regulars "" a chili cheese dog or sausage for $4.75, burgers at $6.50, fish & chips or chicken tenders & fries in the $7-$8 range. New England fried dough can be had for $4. To wash it all down, sodas run from $3-$6. There is a wide range of beer selection; Guinness, Harpoon, Smithwicks, Harp and Heineken will run you $8; Coors, Miller and Bud cost $7. If you're there, you may as well try the local brews "" Newport Storm and Narragansett can be had for the same price range as the other beer options. You'll also find pizza and salads available. No need to wander the whole concourse "" there are two types of food stations, the burgers/fries and pizza/salads stops "" once you've seen both, you've found all the options.
There's not an incredible amount of history here relative to other places; The Dunk also serves as home to the Providence Bruins (AHL), and, at one time, the Providence Reds, another minor league hockey team. That said, the Friars did have some great years in the past, and the joint was surely rocking then. You'll find the environment very comfortable, with a solid mix of Providence students, families and locals there to enjoy the game.
The Dunk is located right in downtown Providence, which is a fairly small and walkable city. Right around the corner from the arena you'll find the Trinity Brewhouse, where they brew their own beers on premises, and offer a wide range of affordable pub food, including burgers, pizza, salads and apps. Right next door is the Providence Place Mall, a sprawling complex that offers options including The Cheesecake Factory, Dave & Buster's, Pizzeria Uno, and a food court. You'll also find plenty of shopping and a movie theater here.
Also nearby are a Ruth's Chris, Fleming's, Capital Grille, and Shula's 347 Grill, for you steak lovers. Just a short walk away is the Federal Hill neighborhood, where you'll find a range of great Italian restaurants. Approximately a mile walk is Thayer St., in the heart of Brown University, for those looking to hang with some Ivy Leaguers.
On this particular Saturday night, for a conference game against Cincinnati, it was somewhat disappointing to find the arena not sold out. That said, the Friars came roaring from behind to tie the game and send it to overtime, and the crowd certainly became much more engaged as the game got more competitive. You will find a lot of Providence gear on fans, who make their support of the home team very clear.
The Dunk is easily accessible right off of Route 95. That being said, a strong word of warning: It took approximately an hour just to get off the exit (22C) for Providence Place. You can park in the mall all night for less than $5, which is great. But the exit basically goes off the highway and straight into the parking garage, and on a Saturday night, it seemed everyone in greater Providence was headed to the mall/arena area for the game, a movie, dinner, or what have you. So plan accordingly. If the traffic is light, you'll find yourself with plenty of time to explore downtown Providence. There is a skywalk connecting the mall to the Westin Hotel right next door to the arena, so you barely have to step outside once you've parked the car. Once inside, bathrooms are plentiful and easily accessible, although during timeouts and halftime, they can get quite crowded (even the men's room).
Tickets can be had for as little as $12, and even if the Friars are having a down year, being in the Big East, some excellent competition comes into town. Sight lines are good from most anywhere in the arena. You'll get a good experience for your money "" clean, comfortable, no frills, but competitive Division I college basketball with a good crowd.
The neighborhood around the arena bumps The Dunk up a notch, as well as the ability to grab a beer while watching a college game, which most on-campus arenas don't allow.
The Dunkin' Donuts Center and PC basketball don't garner too much attention being in the shadow of the bigger city just to the north. But college basketball fans won't regret making the trip down I-95 - as long as they mentally prepare for the Saturday night mall traffic.
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