TD Garden – Boston Celtics
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
TD Garden 100 Legends Way Boston, MA 02114
Year Opened: 1995
The Boston Celtics are the most successful franchise in NBA history, having won 17 championships, 21 conference titles and 22 division championships during their time in the league. The team has qualified for the playoffs 57 times. 40 individuals associated with the team have been enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The TD Garden is the home of both the Celtics and the NHL’s Boston Bruins. When the facility was under construction in the mid-1990s, plans stated the arena would be located “just north” of the Boston Garden. “Just north” ended up being nine inches away. The privately financed facility was built for $160 million in 1995.
Food & Beverage 4
Concessions at TD Garden have never been at the forefront of the Celtics gameday experience. Over the years, the concessions have improved here in both variety and quality. Along with the physical renovations to the TD Garden, visiting fans will notice improvements to the food and beverages available for the 2019-20 season.
Stands at the TD Garden are organized by their menus, so hungry fans may have to do some searching to find what they want. All the expected arena staples can be found at the many stands that line the concourse. Vegetarian, vegan, kosher and gluten free items are available throughout TD Garden. For your best value, try a super slice at Sal’s Pizza. Hub Hot Dogs offers a family-friendly menu without alcohol sales. For some of the more unique items on the menu, head to the Test Kitchen stand on Level 4. Coca-Cola products are featured at TD Garden. A more in-depth description of the menu, including a map of all concessions, can be found here.
Fans looking for an adult beverage will have no problem finding what they want at TD Garden. In addition to draught and bottled beers available at both permanent and portable concession stands, there are several spots dedicated solely to adult refreshments. The Coors Light Hub Bar and Sam Adams Brew House, located on Level 4, as well as the Bud Light Blue Zone and Craft Beer Garden on Level 7, offer a wide selection of national brands and local craft brews for thirsty Bruins fans. New social areas for the 2019-20 season include The Rafters Club on Level 9 and the Back Row Bar at the top of the Balcony seating area.
Be warned that concession prices at TD Garden are among the highest in the NBA.
Somewhere, Red Auerbach must be rolling over in his grave. The old Celtics philosophy of just opening up the gates and rolling out the basketballs is a distant memory. Watching an NBA game today is an all-out assault on the senses, and taking in a Celtics game at the TD Garden is no different. The game-day presentation at a Celtics game is a non-stop mix of music and visuals designed to appeal to the casual basketball fan.
The Celtics put on as good a show as anyone in the NBA. All the usual features are here, including a scantily-clad dance team, a cheerleading squad (kudos to having a mixed-gender squad who perform some nice stunts), and to many old-timers’ dismay, a mascot. However, the Celtics do not employ your standard furry creature, but an actual human dressed in leprechaun gear. “Lucky” takes part in stunts and routines, and has some good moves of his own.
A significant portion of the in-game presentation is directed towards younger fans, with play stoppages filled with fan cams on the jumbotron, t-shirt tosses, performances by Li’l Phunk, the team’s youth dance troupe, face painting booths, and more. Youth teams can even take the court to play before the game. The TD Garden is a family-friendly venue. Parents can feel very comfortable bringing the entire family to a Celtics game.
The TD Garden is located in Boston’s historic North End, the city’s version of “Little Italy.” Among the many outstanding restaurants along these narrow, crowded streets is Bruin legend Ray Bourque’s restaurant, Tresca. Be sure to grab a couple of cannolis from Mike’s Pastry while here, or head to Regina’s Pizzeria, one of the top places to get a slice of pizza in the country. Many visiting fans enjoy walking down Hanover Street, taking in the sights and smells.
There are no shortage of options for Celtic fans looking for a spot to eat near the Garden before or after a game. Halftime King of Pizza, right across Causeway Street, is always loaded with fans grabbing a quick slice. The Four’s was named the best sports bar in the United States by Sports Illustrated in 2005. Boston Beer Works is popular for their wide selection of craft brews, including the Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale. Fans flock from all over Greater Boston to The Harp, The Greatest Bar, Sports Grille Boston, Hurricane O’Reilly’s, and many other fine dining establishments in the immediate area.
Walk a few blocks further south, and you will arrive at Faneuil Hall, a collection of restaurants, shops and clubs that is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Be sure to check out Union Oyster House, Boston’s oldest restaurant and home of the city’s best clam chowder. Statues of Celtics legends Red Auerbach and Bill Russell can be found here among all the historic sites.
Fans looking to explore Boston’s rich history 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. Several points of interest are located near the Garden, including the Old North Church, Faneuil Hall and Copp’s Burial Ground.
The Celtics are averaging over 19,000 fans per game during the 2019-20 season, more than 100 percent of capacity. This figure easily places the Celtics in the top ten in the NBA attendance rankings. Celtics fans are known around the league as some of the most passionate, dedicated fans in the league. The give the Celtics one of the greatest home-court advantages in the NBA, and the TD Garden can be one of the loudest buildings when the Celtics get rolling.
The crowd at the Garden is a mix of longtime fans who can still recall the Celtics glory days of Cousy and Russell, fans from the original Big Three (Bird-McHale-Parish) era, and younger fans who came aboard with the new Big Three (Pierce-Garnett-Allen). Games at the Garden today are family friendly, and the crowd is filled with the next generation of Celtics fans.
Boston is certainly not an easy city for visitors to navigate. City streets, which date all the way back to colonial times, are laid out in seemingly random directions. Traffic jams and never-ending construction projects are the norm here. While the Garden is located adjacent to Interstate 93, even the most direct route off the highway (Exit 26-Storrow Drive) requires several twists and turns to reach the arena.
The best way to get to TD Garden is to take public transportation, known in Boston as the “T.” The arena is located directly on top of the North Station MBTA commuter rail station, bringing in fans from all parts of suburban Boston. For fans taking the subway, both the green and orange lines stop at North Station, right across the street from TD Garden. The $2.75 one-way fare makes the “T” Stadium Journey’s recommendation for avoiding the hassle of driving.
Although there are many options for parking in the area around the Garden it can be quite expensive to park here. There is a 5-level garage located directly underneath the Garden which charges $52 for event parking. There are several surface lots and garages in the immediate area which range from $30-$50 on game night. Despite the Garden’s downtown location, there is little on-street parking to be found.
The big news over the summer of 2019 was the completion of the renovations that have been in progress over the past several years. In addition to the new entrance and atrium that debuted last season, additional parking was added to the North Station garage. Concourse space was increased by twenty percent, additional bathrooms were added, and new seating areas and concessions points were added in the balcony level. Gone are the old yellow seats, replaced by sleek new, ergonomically advanced seats throughout the facility.
Yet somehow fan comfort took a major hit despite these “improvements.” The seats that were installed featured increased seat and back padding, a new armrest design and higher seat backs that made them feel significantly smaller than their predecessors. Many fans can no longer fit comfortably in the new seats, ether due to decreased legroom or seat width. The Garden’s initial reaction, “it takes time to get used to such major changes,” didn’t help with fan backlash. Even though the facility backed off from these statements and will be replacing these torturous seats over the summer, there’s nothing that can be done until after the Bruins and Celtics wrap up their seasons.
Return on Investment 3
The Celtics utilize variable pricing for their home games, dividing their schedule into several tiers. Tickets start as low as $39 for the least expensive seats, with the average ticket costing about $145. Check out the Celtics website for more details on ticket pricing and availability. There is an active secondary market for Celtics tickets with bargains to be found.
Inflating the price of attending a Celtics game is above average concession prices and parking prices that are among the highest in the league. Parking in the garage beneath the TD Garden costs $52, with surface lots and garages a short distance from the arena priced between $35-50.
Fans looking to avoid the exorbitant parking prices, not to mention the always present Boston traffic can take the “T” to the game, which drops fans off at North Station, right across the street from the Garden on both the Green and Orange lines. Fares from most spots in and around the city cost only $2.75.
History-A trio of extra points is awarded for the sense of history that permeates all corners of the TD Garden.
There is a statue of Red Auerbach smoking one of his legendary victory cigars in Fanueil Hall, and a statue of Bill Russell in the nearby City Hall Plaza, the site of so many Celtics’ championship rallies. A statue of Larry Bird can be found inside the Garden, in the Boston Sports Museum.
No other team in the NBA can match the Celtics’ 17 championship banners, all of which hang proudly from the rafters of the Garden. There is no room for mere division title banners or even conference title flags here. It’s an NBA title or bust here in Boston.
Also joining the championship banners are three banners honoring Celtic retired numbers from throughout their storied history. In all, 23 former Celtics have been honored by having their jersey numbers retired. There are so many retired numbers here, in fact, that the honored players do not have their own unique banner. All the numbers are simply laid out on a trio of grids. No names, no frills, just three banners full of the numbers of some of basketball’s all-time greats. Kevin Garnett’s number 5 will join the legendary lineup in the 2020-21 season.
The signature floor at the TD Garden, properly named the Red Auerbach Court, has been linked to the Celtics and the Garden since 1952. Built during World War II when lumber was prohibitively scarce and costly, this floor actually pre-dates the Celtics, and was originally used at nearby Matthews Arena. Legend has it that the Celtics knew which way the ball would bounce on certain parts of the floor, and would defend their opponents accordingly. Although the floor was rebuilt in 1999, pieces of the original floor were incorporated into the new floor, which accurately recreated the oft-imitated look of the original court.
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. Exhibits include the penalty box from the Boston Garden and an open theater with original Garden seats. Items from local high schools share space with Boston’s many professional teams.
Gino Time-If you are lucky enough to attend a game in which the Celtics are assured of victory, you will get to experience Gino Time. In a nod to Red Auerbach’s tradition of lighting a victory cigar near the end of certain Celtics victories, the team shows a video of an old American Bandstand clip from 1977 intertwined with shots of people in the crowd dancing. The clip, played to the Bee Gee’s “You Should Be Dancing”, has achieved cult status in major part due to a dancer with a legendary 1970’s perm and a tight shirt emblazoned with “Gino” on it. Kevin Garnett even admitted to being a big fan of Gino Time during his time with the team.
Boston may not be thought of as a basketball hotbed in some circles, but the combination of a team contending for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, a rabid fanbase, an outstanding gameday atmosphere, unmatched history and tradition makes “The Gahden” one of the must-see venues in the league.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.