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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Meehan Auditorium was named for George V. Meehan, who donated the funds to build an arena to “serve and promote” the Brown men’s hockey team. Notable events to be held at Meehan include a visit from President Lyndon B. Johnson during his 1964 Presidential campaign and the 1965 Frozen Four.
Hockey has been played at Brown since 1898. Now a member of the ECAC and Ivy Leagues, 14 Brown Alumni have played in the NHL. The Bears have qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times (1951, 1965, 1976, 1993), and have made the Frozen Four three times, most recently in 1976.
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".
If you have ever attended a sporting event of any kind at Brown University, you are familiar with Frenchy's catering. They provide concessions at all Brown events. At Brown hockey games, they run a small concession stand just off the main lobby.
The menu at this concession stand is pretty basic, but on the plus side, no single item costs over four dollars. Hungry Bear fans can snack on hot dogs, slices of pizza, or nachos while taking in the action. Snacks such as cotton candy, peanuts, popcorn and pretzels are sold here. Also located in the lobby is a cart selling cinnamon glazed nuts and fudge. The smell of cinnamon from this small cart wafts throughout Meehan Auditorium, making this arena the best-smelling rink you will ever visit.
Thirsty fans can choose from bottles of Coca-Cola products, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Alcoholic beverages are not available at Meehan Auditorium. If you are running short on cash, find the soda machines on the far side of the arena. Sodas and snacks in these machines are half the price that they are in the snack bar. Don't tell anyone, it will be our secret!
Watching the student section steadily fill up before a Brown hockey game will fill you with anticipation of an evening about to be filled with typical college hijinks, chants and tomfoolery. While the students do turn out for Brown hockey in impressive numbers, that's pretty much all they do. The kids talk amongst themselves, snap selfies, and watch the game politely. They don't add to the noise or atmosphere at Meehan Auditorium like so many student sections across the nation do.
The same can be said for the rest of the crowd at Meehan Auditorium. If you were asked to describe what the atmosphere at an Ivy League athletic event would be, you may respond with the following words: "scholarly," "tradition" and "reserved". You would be absolutely correct. While fans turn out in decent numbers, they come to simply watch the game. There is little in the way of extra bells and whistles at Meehan Auditorium. While this is hardly a bad thing, rowdy fans would seem very out of place at a Brown hockey game. Most of what noise there is here comes from visiting fans.
If you are attending Meehan Auditorium for a Mayor's Cup game against Providence College, prepare for a packed house and much livelier atmosphere.
Meehan Auditorium is located on the residential east side of Providence, adjacent to several other Brown University athletic venues. Brown hockey fans looking for things to do before or after a game will find a multitude of things to do within a short walk of Meehan Auditorium. Thayer Street, the main campus drag, is only two blocks from the athletic complex, and is filled with quaint shops, restaurants, and bars. Nearby Hope Street continues the eclectic vibe of the east side with more locally owned shops and places to eat. Fans who would like to sample more of Providence's nightlife should head over to Wickenden Street or Fox Point, both a short drive from campus.
Downtown Providence is a only a mile and a half away at the bottom of College Hill. Providence enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest culinary destinations in the country, and visitors to the area will find more than enough choices to satisfy even the most adventurous of palates.
Brown averages just under 1,500 fans per game at Meehan Auditorium, or about half of capacity. The student body turns out in good numbers to catch some of the action, but they come to watch the action, not be a part of it. Even worse, most of them leave during the second intermission, leaving a skeleton crowd for the third period. The remainder of the crowd is made up primarily of alumni, as Brown ranks third on the Providence hockey food chain behind the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and the defending national champion Providence College Friars.
Meehan Auditorium is located in Brown University's athletic complex, adjacent to the Pizzitola Sports Center on the East Side of Providence. While the Brown University Campus is located near several highways, there is no direct way to get to or from Brown Stadium. If driving, one must navigate a maze of neighborhood streets before arriving at the auditorium. If attending a game during a weekday, Providence can be a tough city to get around in. Several RIPTA buses run regularly to nearby Thayer Street and the Brown campus is a short distance from the stadium.
Parking is available for Brown hockey at no charge in any of several small lots shared by the university's several athletic venues. A map to these lots can be found here. Fans unable to find a spot in the lot can utilize free on street parking in the area around the auditorium. Finding an available spot can be tricky at times, but patient visitors should be able to find spots within easy walking distance of the arena.
Meehan Auditorium's large white dome can be seen from far away, as the arena was built on the highest point of the athletic complex. Fans will be greeted upon entering the rink by a stuffed Alaskan Brown Bear. The concourse circles the arena and features standing room on either end of the rink. All seats are folding wooden chairs painted brown, red and gold, and feature excellent views of the ice. A walkway runs about halfway up the seating bowl, separating the upper and lower sections.
There is a pair of rest rooms on the far side of the arena. They are adequate for the typical Brown hockey crowd, but lines can form during intermission, particularly if there is a big crowd in attendance.
Tickets for Brown hockey cost ten dollars, with an extra two dollars tacked on if purchasing on game day. Parking is free in the lots and on the streets surrounding Meehan Auditorium. No food item costs more than four dollars, making an evening at Meehan Auditorium a most affordable option for Rhode Island hockey fans.
History-Brown has been playing hockey since 1898, and they proudly display this history all around Meehan Auditorium. Plaques commemorating every team captain, All-American selections, all-conference selections and members of the Brown Hockey Hall of Fame line the walls. Every men's and women's hockey team to ever lace up for the university are immortalized on the walls as well. Banners honoring tournament teams and championships hang from the rafters, and portraits of Brown's most significant persons hang in the main lobby. Hockey historians will undoubtedly seek out the Brown hockey history timeline and the photos of Brown's All-Americans.
Women's hockey-Brown University sponsored the first women's college hockey team in 1964, and their history is given equal footing at Meehan Auditorium.
In hockey-mad Rhode Island, Brown struggles to carve out its own identity behind the professional P-Bruins and NCAA champion Friars. The fan experience for a Brown Bear hockey game is pretty typical of what you would expect of an Ivy League school that hasn't experienced a whole lot of success in recent years; it's laid-back, reserved and almost scholarly in nature. Meehan Auditorium doesn't feature all the modern amenities that the newer venues that dot the New England college hockey landscape have, but fans who take the effort to seek out Meehan Auditorium on the East Side of Providence will be rewarded with some inexpensive, quality hockey.
Follow all Paul Baker's Stadium Journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
Member Review by Steve Stoehr on Feb 24, 2013
The Brown University Bears have been playing men’s ice hockey since 1898, originally facing off against other regional institutions like Harvard on the frozen ponds near campus. In 1961, the Meehan Auditorium was constructed to be the hockey team’s home rink. Since it was built, the arena has seen the birth and rise of the women’s ice hockey team, been the staging point for a campaign speech by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and hosted the Frozen Four in 1965.
Last renovated in 2002, Meehan is now a modern and well-appointed facility with great sightlines and a decorative scheme replete with gravitas and history. With the Bears’ program in an extended rebuilding phase, it can’t be said that Meehan is among the best venues or sporting experiences in the country, but it succeeds in creating a fairly personal atmosphere at incredibly affordable prices. As one usher succinctly put it, “it’s a great place to watch hockey.”
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