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Official Review by Jonah Berman, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Northeastern University is in a tough spot when it comes to sports in Boston. For starters, Boston has never really been a college sports town, with the four pro teams stealing most all of the headlines. And even within the college sports landscape here, Boston College tends to get most of the attention, be it for football, basketball or hockey (with BU often taking center stage when it comes to hockey). So, to play for the Huskies often means being somewhat anonymous. The school does boast a few pro standouts, including Carlos Pena of the Tampa Bay Rays and JJ Barea of the Timberwolves. But it is not a school known for athletic prowess. The basketball experience is adequate, but not one that will compel you to make special plans to catch it.
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".
You'll find one food stand at Matthews that offers a limited menu of regular stadium fare. You can get hot dogs, fries, nachos, pizza and soda, all for less than $5. So, it's certainly affordable and in a pinch will do. But you'd be much better off checking out one of the many eating spots in the neighborhood pre-game.
Unless it's a season where the team is highly competitive or a major rivalry game, the atmosphere in Matthews is pretty flat. On a 2012 Wednesday matchup against Maine, the arena was about ten percent full. While the pep band, cheerleaders, dance squad and announcers did their best to create some excitement, when your crowd is that thin, it's pretty hard to get anything going. Credit to the team who, as you would hope, played hard regardless, but the atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired.
This is one piece of the experience that is a major plus. Matthews is located right in between Boston's Back Bay and South End neighborhoods. It's around the corner from Symphony Hall and just off of two main downtown thoroughfares, Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue. The campus of the school itself is spread out along Huntington, and as you would expect around a college campus, there's every chain food option you can imagine: Qdoba, Dunkin Donuts, Pizzeria Uno, Panera Bread, and more. There's also some local flavor including Symphony Sushi, Boston Shwarma and pretty much every ethnic food you can imagine. My recommendation for pre-game would be Our House East, a comfortable neighborhood pub located on Gainsborough street a short walk from the arena. You can get a variety of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and wings for under $10, and there's plenty of TVs for game-watching. After the game, check out Wally's Jazz Café for great music with no (or cheap) cover.
Credit to the few dedicated fans in the front row; the backs of their t-shirts indicated they were populating the area known as the "N-Zone." But unfortunately they numbered about three, total. The only reason this category doesn't get a lower score is because the fans who were there were at least positive, and cheering. But the crowd was tiny. Not the kind of home court advantage a college hoops team would hope for.
Matthews Arena is located near two "T" stops; the green line Symphony stop and the orange line "Massachusetts Avenue" stop. If you're driving, there is a lot down the block from the arena that charges $15 on game night. There is metered parking in the area, but you could drive in circles for an hour without finding an open meter, so don't count on it. Take the T for $2 and save yourself the hassle.
At $10 a pop, this ticket won't break the bank, but given the quality of the experience, $5 might feel more appropriate. It's not a venue you'll be rushing back to.
I suppose it's cool to go to a game where you can sit wherever you like regardless of what seat you're assigned to. Besides that, there are not too many extras to this experience.
Northeastern is an excellent school with a great downtown campus. But the basketball experience leaves something to be desired. If you're a sports nut and there's not much else going on in town, it's a cheap ticket and you'll see Division-I basketball played hard. But it falls low on the list of sporting venues to be seen in a town that simply has better to offer.
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52 Gainsborough St
Boston, MA 02115
45 Gainsborough St
Boston, MA 02115
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