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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

DCU Center – Worcester Railers


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

DCU Center 50 Foster Street Worcester, MA 01608


Year Opened: 1982

Capacity: 14,800

 

Off The Rails


The DCU Center was built in the early 1980s as an alternative venue to the aging Boston Garden. Many national touring acts had stopped including Boston on their tours due to the inadequate facilities at the Garden. Worcester, located 47 miles west of Boston, is the second largest city in New England and was considered a suitable location for the new arena. Since its opening in 1982, the arena and adjoining convention center have hosted numerous sporting events, concerts, trade shows, and conventions.


After serving as home to American Hockey League teams for 20 years, Worcester found itself without hockey when San Jose moved their farm team west in 2015. Into the void stepped the ECHL, which granted the city of Worcester an expansion team that began play in 2017. That team, the Railers, has qualified for the playoffs once during their five seasons in the ECHL, losing in the first round in 2018.


Food & Beverage 4


Not all of the DCU Center’s concession stands are open for Railers games, but there are enough points of sale open to ensure short lines that move quickly. The menu does not stray far from standard arena fare, with hot dogs, sausage and pepper sandwiches, burgers, and chicken tenders comprising the bulk of the menu. Portable stands create some variety, offering pizza slices (Slice Slice Baby), meatball subs (Cousin Sal’s), and nachos (Nacho Mama’s). Several stands dedicated purely to snacks and ice cream are popular destinations for the younger fans in attendance.


Pepsi products are featured at the DCU Center. Fans looking for an adult beverage will find a good selection of national brands. A variety of local craft beers, including several from Wormtown Brewery, are sold at the Craft Beer Corner.



Atmosphere 3


The atmosphere at a Worcester Railers game will be very familiar to veteran minor league hockey fans. The expanded lobby at the DCU Center is put to good use, with an inflatable shooting cage and team store. Trax, the Railers mascot, will often be found here posing for pictures with fans.


During the game, the team puts on a good show, with contests for fans during play stoppages, hype videos on the scoreboard, and t-shirt tosses. The very active Railers booster club sponsors 50/50 and other raffles every game, as well as road trips for fans. During intermissions, local youth teams and skate groups take the ice.


The Bud Light Lounge and Coors Light Chill Zone are full-service bars located on opposite ends of the rink. Both bars overlook the ice and are open throughout the game to all fans.


Neighborhood 4


Many visitors may not know this, but Worcester is the second-largest city in all of New England. The DCU Center is located right downtown in the Central Business District. While Worcester has historically been viewed in a less-than-positive light, it is a city on the rise, with many things to do and see. While not considered a college town, there are eight colleges within Worcester city limits.


While Worcester as a whole has many fine options for dining, options are a bit slimmer near the DCU Center. Local chains 99 Restaurant and Uno’s Pizzeria draw the largest crowds around game time. The Hilton Garden Inn and Holiday Inn Express are located nearby. Many Railer fans will head to Off the Rails, right behind the DCU Center, for some live music or postgaming.


Fans willing to branch out and explore the city of Worcester will be rewarded with many great options. Worcester’s famous “Restaurant Row,” aka Shrewsbury Street, boasts over 40 restaurants, ranging from fine dining to casual joints, brew pubs to diners, and everything in between. With many shops also located on this drag, it’s a great place for a stroll and some window shopping should the weather cooperate.


Worcester made a big splash in the national sports scene with the construction of Polar Park, home of the Worcester Red Sox, the top farm time of the nearby Boston Red Sox. The ballpark, located about a mile from the DCU Center, is the anchor of the up-and-coming Canal District. Fans looking for dining options will find many choices in that area. College sports fans will be pleased to know that the Holy Cross Crusaders play football nearby at Fitton Field along with basketball and hockey at the Hart Center.


Fans 3


Attendance at Railers games has remained fairly steady over the team’s existence, averaging around 4,000 fans per game. This figure puts the team right in the middle of the ECHL rankings.


As is the case for most minor league teams, a Railers crowd consists of a base of hardcore hockey fans (there are a lot of them in Central Massachusetts), supplemented by families and groups. The presence of many younger fans gives the DCU Center an energetic vibe.



Access 4


Before you arrive at the DCU Center, plan. The venue has a very restrictive bag policy. Bags are not allowed into the arena. Nothing larger than a wristlet is allowed. Check the bag policy here.


The DCU Center is located in the Central Business District of the city of Worcester. Located just two blocks from Interstate 290, the arena is easily accessible via exit 20. Parking is available in several surface lots in the area, as well as a parking garage across the street from the main entrance. There is plenty of on-street parking in the area for those who want to search for it.


Most fans will enter the DCU Center via the arena’s main entrance on the corner of Foster Street and Major Taylor Boulevard. The newly redesigned entry plaza features a statue of longtime Worcester resident and Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy, which was dedicated in June of 2021.


Even though the concourse of the DCU Center is quite narrow, getting around is rarely an issue thanks to the small crowds present on most nights. Lines at the restrooms and concession stands are not a problem, either. Even when all stands are not open, you will not have to wait to purchase snacks.


The seating bowl features folding stadium chairs with cupholders. The lower bowl features a very gentle slope, which makes some viewpoints less than ideal for hockey. Most of the upper deck is curtained off to make the venue seem less empty. Fans looking for some Railers gear will find two merchandise stands on the concourse.



Return on Investment 3


Tickets to Railers games start at $15 for upper-level end zone seats, with prices increasing to $35 for lower-level seats at center ice. Purchasing tickets on game day increases all ticket prices by an additional three dollars. The team offers several ticket packages that offer group discounts and added value with food vouchers. Check the Railers website ticket center for more details.


Parking is plentiful around the DCU Center, with several lots and garages located within walking distance of the facility. The Mercantile Garage right across the street from the DCU Center charges $12 on game nights. There is on-street parking available for fans who wish to search for it. Just be careful when city meters are in operation. Concessions prices are a bit on the high side, but prices are comparable to other arenas in the area.


Extras 2

An extra point is awarded for the statue of longtime Worcester native and Holy Cross alumni Bob Cousy, located in the DCU Center’s entry plaza.



Displays of Railers founding season ticket holders and artists who have performed at the DCU Center can be found on the concourse.


Final Thoughts


The DCU Center is a solid if unspectacular place to catch some quality minor league hockey. Recent years have seen the city of Worcester raise its profile in the sporting world by courting the Pawtucket Red Sox to the city. When the American Hockey League left town, the ECHL wasted no time jumping into this thriving market.


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Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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