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The TD Garden, formerly known as the Fleet Center and the TD BankNorth Garden, is the home of both the NBA’s Boston Celtics and NHL’s Boston Bruins. Built just nine inches from the original Boston Garden, it is named after its sponsor, TD Bank. Closing in on its 20th season as the home of one of the NHL’s Original 6 teams, the Garden remains a marquee venue in its own right, and can boast a Stanley Cup championship to go with the five won next door on Causeway Street.
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 concessions at the TD Garden operate on the motto "quantity over quality." There are 47 separate concession stands here, 42 permanent stands and 5 portable carts. Stands are named to evoke a Boston atmosphere, with names like Sal's Pizza, Boston Pops, and West End Chicken.
Unfortunately, the menu does not venture too far from these basics. Pizza, hot dogs, sausages, and chicken fingers dominate the menu. For an alternative to the same old menu, choose the Back Bay Carvery stand for a freshly sliced Turkey or Roast Beef wrap, or the West End Chicken and Brew stand for Lobster Rangoons. Fans seeking out something different for dessert should check out the Sweet Spot, where several different flavors of Gelato are featured.
As would be expected, thirsty fans can quench their thirst with a cold Sam Adams, or can sample from several local craft beers at the Craft Beer Garden on the level 7 concourse. Fans looking for a change from your standard concession stand style of dining will be pleased to find the Premium Club Bistro on level 5.
Be warned, if you plan to eat or drink at a Bruins game, bring some money. Boston has one of the highest cost indexes in the NHL. With a few exceptions, there is nothing on the menu here that will classify as a "must have" item. Even more disappointing is the lack of any real local signature items. With the impressive variety of places to eat and drink in the immediate vicinity of the Garden, my recommendation is that you save your appetite until after the game and visit one of the many fine establishments within a short walk of the Garden.
The staff at the Garden put on as good a show as anyone in the NHL. The game day operations staff put on a varied and unique pre-game show throughout the season, and tie the presentations in well with the community. It is not unusual to see local police, firefighters, or military personnel taking part in ceremonies throughout the game. The national anthem ceremony at the first game after the Boston Marathon bombings continues to be legendary. The Bruins pre-game show is one of the better ones you will come across in your stadium journeys, with a video sure to pump up even the most casual of fans.
Nostalgic fans will lament the fact that the atmosphere at the new Garden (and yes, some fans still refer to the TD Garden as the "new" Garden even though it is almost 20 years old) can't come close to the old barn, and that the seats don't hang over the ice like they used to, but the fact is that a building can't be built like that anymore. The Garden seats over 17,000 for hockey, and all seats have a good, if not great, view of the action. Fans are encouraged to participate and be vocal throughout the game, and with this being New England, not much encouragement is needed anyway.
When visiting the Garden, there is no doubt as to who is the top dog here. From the life-size statue of Bobby Orr greeting fans as they enter the building to the black and gold color scheme in the seating bowl, everything at the Garden screams Bruins. Fans will even come into contact with a life-size statue of a bear while roaming the concourse. The great majority of fans come decked out in the jerseys of their favorite players, both past and present, and the Garden is one of the noisiest arenas in the league. It all combines to give the Bruins a nice home-ice advantage.
The immediate area around the Garden hardly looks the part of a neighborhood you would want to visit. The streets are narrow, the buildings are old, and the area looks, well, kind of sketchy. The neighborhood is changing, though. Long-time Bruins fans can tell you how this entire neighborhood used to be located underneath subway tracks and highways. Now that those tracks and roads have gone the way of the original Garden, there are spacious, open green areas where there used to be ugly stretches of cement and iron. New businesses have moved into the area, dive bars have been replaced by more upscale clubs, and revitalization has begun to take hold.
Packed into the five blocks directly across the street from the TD Garden are more bars and restaurants than you might think could be concentrated into such a small area. Fans looking for just a quick bite to eat can choose from several locations, such as Halftime King of Pizza, D'Angelo's Sandwiches, Qdoba Mexican Grill, or Dunkin' Donuts.
For a proper Garden experience, many Bruins fans choose from one of the many outstanding locations in the neighborhood. The Four's was named the best sports bar in the United States by Sports Illustrated in 2005, and has menu items named after many Boston sports icons. Boston Beer Works is a popular destination due to its selection of craft brews. Out-of-towners should sample the Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale. Space restrictions prohibit me from mentioning all the fine locations in the immediate area, but it's tough to go wrong with this many options.
Walk a few blocks past this cluster of buildings, and you will arrive at Faneuil Hall, a popular Boston tourist attraction. Containing a multitude of restaurants, clubs, and shops, it ranks as one of Boston's top destinations for out-of-towners. Boston sports fans will find a statue of Red Auerbach lighting up one of his legendary victory cigars after yet another Celtic victory here. Fans looking for fancier dining options should take a left onto Causeway Street after leaving the Garden and cross over I-93 into the North End, home of some of the finest Italian restaurants this side of Rome. Also located in the North End are some buildings of historical significance, such as the Old North Church and Copp's Hill Burial Ground.
Fans looking to explore Boston's many historical sites can follow the Freedom Trail, which passes only a few blocks from the Garden. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile long brick-lined route that connects 16 of Boston's most significant historic sites. This walking tour winds throughout the city and is one of the best ways to explore Boston.
When you think about hockey in the United States, the three "M's" immediately come to mind (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan). New England is one of the most hockey-crazed areas you will ever find, with a dedicated fan base that can rival anything found in Canada. The Bruins have sold out the Garden every game since 2009, and with the team's current success, that streak is in no danger of ending anytime soon.
Fans in Boston are more than just fannies in the seats, and are among the most knowledgeable and demanding in the league. Believe it or not, the Bruins used to own Boston, ruling the headlines over even the Red Sox and perennial champion Celtics back in the day. Even though Boston has been spoiled recently with championship seasons from all four major professional teams, the Bruins continue to take a back seat to no one.
The Bruins take great lengths to include the fans in the team's success, with fans involved in choosing several end of season awards. Fans vote for the team's 7th player award winner, which is awarded to the player that performs above and beyond expectations, and the Gallery Gods, long-time season ticket holders, hand out several awards on their own as well. On game days a great deal of area around the Garden is decked out in black and gold, and when the Bruins embark on a lengthy playoff run, this vibe extends out into Greater Boston and beyond.
Anyone who has spent any time in the city of Boston can testify that it is not an easy city to get around in. City streets, dating back to colonial times, are laid out in seemingly random directions. Finding a parking spot on a city street is a rare feat indeed. Those fans brave enough to try and drive to the Garden should not be fooled by the fact that the Garden is located only a few feet from Interstate 93. No matter what direction you may be traveling from, the most direct route to the Garden is to take exit 26 off of I-93. Once off the highway, follow the signs to the Garden. Beware, the city streets around the Garden are narrow, and several turns must be navigated before arriving at your destination.
A much simpler and more efficient method for getting to the Garden is to take public transportation, known in Boston as the "T." The TD Garden is located directly on top of the North Station MBTA stop. Both the green and orange lines stop at the Garden, making it easily accessible from any part of the city and beyond. Subway fares are $2, making taking the T to a Bruins game a much more affordable option. Even better, if attending the Garden on a cold winter night, you will never even have to step foot outside once arriving at the arena.
Although there are many options for parking in the area around the Garden it can be quite expensive to leave your car anywhere in the vicinity. There is a 5-level garage located directly underneath the Garden, but it will run you $38 to park there for a game. There are several surface lots in the immediate area, as well as numerous parking garages, ranging in price from $25-$40 for the event.
Once inside the Garden, you will find yourself in a wide concourse lined with concession stands on both sides. Although the concourse is starting to show the effects of 20 years of wear and tear, there are plans to spend $70 million starting in the summer of 2014 to renovate the concourses and Pro Shop, as well as the technological infrastructure.
The Garden contains 34 restrooms split evenly between men's and women's facilities. There are 13 escalators and seven elevators to help fans travel between the Garden's several concourses. Fans requiring specialized seating will be pleased to find several seating areas dedicated to accessible seating.
The Bruins are among the more expensive places in the NHL to take in a game. Their Fan Index cost ranks them 9th in the league, as the cost to park in the area and the cost of concessions offset their somewhat affordable ticket prices. Unfortunately for fans, the Bruins are sure to rise even higher in these rankings, as they have announced a ticket price increase that will take effect in 2014-2015 which will raise ticket prices by as much as 40 percent. The cheapest seats in the Garden will now cost fans $45. Frugal fans can save a few dollars by taking the T to the game and saving between $25-$40 on parking.
Statues- A statue commemorating what is perhaps hockey's most iconic photograph, Bobby Orr's 1970 Stanley Cup winning goal, is located in the entry plaza to the Garden. It has become the focal point of what was once a very non-descript entry plaza, and has become the spot to meet for fans before and after the game.
Banners- If you like banners, you will love the Garden. In addition to the six Stanley Cup Banners hanging from the rafters, there are banners honoring division, conference, and President's Trophy winning Bruins teams.
Retired Numbers- The Bruins were the NHL's first American-based team, dating back 90 years. Close to 1,000 players have worn the spoked-B, and ten of the best have their numbers hanging from the rafters of the Garden.
The Sports Museum- Perhaps the greatest hidden sporting gem in Boston, it's a must see for any sports fan visiting Boston. Located on levels 5 and 6 of the Garden, The Sports Museum features items celebrating the city of Boston's long and storied sports history.
History- Many sporting events of great importance have occurred both here at the Garden and next door at the old building. Murals depicting some of these events are scattered throughout the concourse with pictures and brief narratives.
While the current incarnation of the Garden still has a ways to go to match the tenure of its predecessor, the TD Garden has emerged as a first-rate venue in its own right. It may never match the notoriety or history of the original Garden, but it has been steadily building its own history, hosting an NHL championship, multiple Stanley Cup Finals, an NHL All-Star game, as well as the annual Beanpot Tournament and Hockey East Championships. It will be hosting the 2015 Frozen Four, further cementing its place as a first-rate hockey venue.
Situated near Boston's historic North End, TD Garden is home to both the Celtics and the Bruins. The venue itself stands in stark contrast to the City of Boston's other sports temple, Fenway Park. The Garden feels brand new, indoors, and there's not a bad sightline to be had. However, the Bruins are sort of the neglected stepchild of the Boston sports universe - the only major team in the area without a title in the 2000's (in fact, they haven't won it all since 1972) - and while Bruins fans are still fairly hardy, the experience suffers a bit.
Can't say that I agree with this review. TD Garden is perfect for hockey. Located right above North Station, there is the Sports Museum to visit beforehand ($10, closes at 4 pm) that lets you inside the seating bowl when the arena is completely empty. Fans are good and friendly even to those rooting for the opposition, the surrounding area is one of the best in sports, and the banners signify how much history has happened to the two franchises that share the Garden. Improvement in food offerings and a reduction in crazily overpriced tickets would make this even better.
TD Garden is definitely better set up for Hockey than Basketball. You have a great view no matter where you are sitting. Unfortunately with the Bruins latest run of success ticket prices are getting a little outrageous.
61 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
115 Causeway Street
Boston, MA 02114
262 Friend Street
Boston, MA 02114
57 Canal Street
Boston, MA 02114
168 Canal Street
Boston, MA 02114
100 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
100 Legends Way
Boston, MA 02114
1 Faneuil Hall Square
Boston, MA 02109
280 Friend St
Boston, MA 02114
30 Washington St
Somerville, MA 02143