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  • Paul Baker

Matthews Arena - Northeastern Huskies Basketball



Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Matthews Arena 238 St. Botolph St Boston, MA 02115


Northeastern Huskies men’s basketball website

Matthews Arena website


Year Opened: 1910

Capacity: 6,000

 

Husky Hoops at Matthews Arena


The city of Boston has a rich sports history, and its venues are some of the most revered in the nation-Fenway Park, Boston Garden, Harvard Stadium. But there is a facility that pre-dates them all that is still in use today - Matthews Arena on the Northeastern campus.


Originally named Boston Arena, the facility was renamed for George and Martha Matthews in 1982. Mr. Matthews, class of 1956, serves as chairman emeritus of the Northeastern Board of Trustees. The arena was the original home of both the Boston Bruins in 1924 and the New England Whalers in 1972, as well as the occasional home of the Boston Celtics in the 1940s and 1950s. Virtually every college hockey team in the area, including all four Beanpot schools, have called this arena home. In fact, Matthews Arena is the oldest indoor hockey rink in the world still in use today.


Muhammed Ali trained here, and many of boxing’s biggest names, including Gene Tunney, Joe Louis, Marvin Hagler and Jack Dempsey fought here. The Frozen Four was held at Matthews Arena in 1960, as was the original Beanpot hockey tournament. More recently, the World Junior Hockey Championships were held here in 1995.


Matthews Arena has always been more than just a sporting venue. Every president from Theodore Roosevelt to John Kennedy visited the site, as have Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhart hosted events here. Concerts by artists as diverse as The Doors, Jerry Lee Lewis, Marvin Gaye, Ludacris, Bob Dylan, The Roots, Chuck Berry and Phish were held at Matthews Arena.


Today, Matthews Arena serves as home to the Northeastern men’s and women’s hockey teams, as well as the Husky basketball team and the Wentworth Institute of Technology hockey team. Various area high-school teams also call Matthews Arena home.


The Huskies play in the Colonial Athletic Association, and have appeared in the NCAA tournament nine times, most recently in 2019. Six players from Northeastern have played in the NBA.


Food & Beverage 3


There is a single concession stand open for most Husky basketball games, with a second auxiliary stand opened should a large crowd be in attendance. A fairly standard menu of arena fare is served up here, consisting of hot dogs, veggie burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and chicken fingers. Nachos and french fries augment a selection of snacks.


Coca-Cola products are featured at Matthews Arena. No alcohol is served at this facility.


Atmosphere 3


When you have a crowd of 1,000 in a facility that seats 6,000, there’s not a whole lot of energy that a crowd can generate. While Matthews Arena won’t be an overly loud place to watch a game, the staff here put on a first-rate, professional show.


Dominating Matthews Arena from all areas of the gym is the facility’s video scoreboard. Measuring 50 feet long by 13.5 feet high, the scoreboard is put to good use throughout the game with replays, game stats, promotions and social media shout outs. Fans with old-school sensibilities will not enjoy the intrusion of modern technology in the old barn, but Northeastern staff do a nice job integrating modern technology in this historic location.


The student body sits courtside at Matthews, but generally doesn’t make a whole lot of noise. Filling that role falls to the arena’s DJ, band, cheerleaders and dance squad. The school’s mascot, Paws, roams the facility interacting with fans and adding a little bit of shenanigans to the game.



Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe


Neighborhood 5


Northeastern University is located near Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. The Fens neighborhood and South End are also within a short walking distance of the University. Many of Boston’s major attractions are located just a short distance from Matthews Arena.


Fans looking for a place to eat before or after the game will have no trouble finding a spot within a short walk of Matthews Arena. Some favorites of the student body are Ginger Exchange, El Pelon Taqueria, Giacomo’s and the Squealing Pig. No matter what kind of food you’re looking for, you’ll be sure to find something to fill the bill.


Fans visiting from out of town will want to check out the Prudential Center and Copley Place, located just a few blocks from Matthews Arena. Symphony Hall is just around the corner from the venue, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is a short walk away. While walking around Boston during the cold winter months may not be recommended, most of Boston’s attractions are easily accessed by a short subway ride.


Fans 2


Basketball takes a back seat to the uber-popular hockey program, which also plays in Matthews Arena. While the hockey team regularly fills the facility, the basketball team struggles to draw 1,000. Since the pandemic, the team is averaging about 750 fans per game. This figure pales in comparison to pre-pandemic levels when the team averaged about 1,200 fans per game.


Fans who have visited Matthews Arena for hockey will be surprised by the lack of support and enthusiasm from the student body. The Dog House, the student section located in the upper level of Matthews Arena, sits empty as the students in attendance sit courtside. While they fill their designated section, they aren’t really a big part of the atmosphere here, as they mostly sit quietly and take in the action.

Access 4


Matthews Arena is located on the eastern edge of Northeastern’s urban campus, near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue. Despite the fact that Matthews Arena is easy to find, that doesn’t make it easy to get to. The ever-present Boston traffic, never-ending construction projects and streets that date back to colonial days, make Boston a tough city to drive in. If you must drive, it is best to bring a local along who is familiar with the city landscape. Directions to Matthews Arena can be found here.


Many local fans will choose to take public transportation to Matthews Arena. The MBTA, known locally as the “T”, drops fans off just a couple of blocks from the arena. The E-train of the Green line drops fans off at Symphony Hall, and the Orange Line has a stop on Massachusetts Avenue. At just $2.75 for a fare, the T is an affordable and convenient alternative for visiting Husky fans.


Fans visiting Matthews Arena will pass under an ornate entry arch into the main lobby. The ticket office, concession stands, and restrooms are all located here. The arena will be located to your right, accessible by a pair of walkways. Seats at Matthews Arena are separated into loge and balcony sections. All seats have excellent views of the action, although some lower level seats will have an obstructed view of the scoreboard and banners due to the overhang of the balcony.


Fans will have no problem navigating Matthews Arena during a typical game. If visiting during a game with a large crowd, expect lines and delays when accessing concessions or rest rooms.



Photo courtesy of the New York Times


Return on Investment 4


Tickets for Northeastern basketball games cost fifteen dollars for all games. Parking can be had for no charge (yes, you read that right, free parking in Boston) at the Columbus Street Garage located a short walk from the Arena. Parking in the small lot adjacent to the arena or in the Gainsborough Garage across the street is $27 for games. There is limited on-street parking in the vicinity of the arena, but finding one of these spots is about as likely as spotting a unicorn.


Many fans will opt to skip the congestion and cost of driving in Boston, and simply take the T to Matthews Arena. Both the Orange and Green Lines pass within a few blocks of Matthews Arena, and a one-way fare is just $2.75. The Number One bus also has a stop at the arena.


If you don’t mind a short walk (about ¼ mile) from the Columbus Street Garage to Matthews Arena, a trip to a Northeastern basketball game is a most affordable option for Boston sports fans.


Extras 3


They just don’t build arenas like this anymore, and that alone is worth an extra point. The exposed brick, the steel tresses, the entry arch that has greeted Boston sports fans for over a century, and the ornate lobby all harken to an earlier time.


The history of Matthews Arena is worth another point. It bears repeating that this is the oldest indoor rink still in use anywhere in the world. The Boston Bruins started here. The Carolina Hurricanes played their first games here (as the New England Whalers of the WHA). The Boston Celtics played here frequently. Presidents, dignitaries, as well as athletes and musicians have visited this site. There is a history here that just can’t be duplicated elsewhere.


Some of this history is on display at Matthews Arena. In addition to banners honoring the success achieved by Northeastern’s basketball and hockey teams, there are banners reminding fans of where the Celtics and Bruins got their starts. There is also a banner honoring Reggie Lewis, the local basketball star who studied at Northeastern and went on to become an All-Star and captain with the Celtics before passing away of a heart condition while still playing for the team. His funeral was held at Matthews Arena.


Final Thoughts


If you’re going to Matthews Arena for a Northeastern basketball game, do yourself a favor and don’t make any comparisons to the game day atmosphere at a Husky hockey game. Instead, enjoy the top-notch game day presentation and the fantastic way the school mixes modern entertainment within a legendary setting. You’ll also see some really good basketball.




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

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