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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

TD Garden - The Beanpot

Team Championship Photo Courtesy of Northeastern Athletics

All Other Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29

TD Garden

100 Legends Way

Boston, MA 02114

Year Opened: 1995

Capacity: 17,850

The Beanpot

Some sports are just uniquely Boston. The Marathon, the Head of the Charles Regatta, a ballgame at Fenway Park. On par with these events is a college hockey tournament held every year on the first two Mondays in February. Pitting the four Division One hockey teams in the city (Northeastern, Harvard, Boston College and Boston University) against each other, the Beanpot is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious college hockey tournament.

Started in 1952 as a way to fill a couple of empty dates at the old Boston Arena, the Beanpot has grown exponentially since it was first contested. Now held at the TD Garden, the Beanpot is the city’s unofficial championship. No matter what happens in conference play or the national tournament afterwards, if your team wins the Beanpot, you are Boston’s college hockey champions.

In 2023 The Beanpot entered into a sponsorship agreement with Dunkin’, rechristening the tournament as “The Dunkin’ Beanpot.” This is the first time the tournament has had a title sponsor.

The TD Garden is the home of both the NBA’s Boston 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.

Food and Beverage 4

Not every concession stand will be open during the Beanpot Tournament, but the majority of stands are open, ensuring that all hungry hockey fans will leave satisfied and that lines will not get too long.

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. 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 draft and bottled beers available at both permanent and portable concession stands, there are several spots dedicated solely to adult refreshments. The Silver Bullet 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 include The Rafters Club on Level 9 and the Top Shelf Bar at the top of the Balcony seating area.

Be warned that you will be paying NHL concession prices during the Beanpot.

Atmosphere 5

Among the best facets of any college hockey game are the noise and excitement generated by a school’s pep band and student section. At the Beanpot, you get four of each.

All four schools represent in full force for the Beanpot, with rivalries switching like some reality show based on the day’s matchups. In addition to packed student sections in the balcony, alums and local fans come out to support their teams in great numbers.

At the Beanpot, you have four schools where hockey is the premier sport vying for bragging rights in a city where pucks are king. Student sections compete to one-up each other in a (mostly) friendly back and forth. There is no need for piped in music here, the pep bands make sure the Garden is filled with noise during all play stoppages. Competitions between students during play stoppages add to the playful atmosphere at the Beanpot.

Despite the fact that three of these schools are members of the Hockey East Conference and Beanpot games do not count in league standings, these games are among the most competitive college hockey games you will see anywhere. It’s almost a given that at least one of these teams will be near the top of the national rankings come Beanpot time. You would be hard pressed to find a more intense atmosphere, even during the national tournament. The battle for Boston hockey bragging rights is taken most seriously.

Neighborhood 5

The TD Garden is located adjacent to Boston’s historic North End, the city’s version of “Little Italy.” While visiting, hockey fans flock to 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.

While the area immediately adjacent to the TD Garden has undergone many changes in recent years with the closure of several legendary restaurants, there are still plenty of dining and lodging options right just steps from the venue. The Harp, Hurricane’s at the Garden and of course, Halftime King of Pizza are just a few of the many options from which to choose. Fans looking for convenient lodging will find a Courtyard by Marriot, CitizenM Downtown and Onyx Boston all in the immediate vicinity.

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 the 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 and 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.

Fans 5

There is an old adage in American hockey circles that states to find the most knowledgeable, passionate fans in the United States, head to the three “M’s” (Massachusetts, Minnesota and Michigan). Having four teams from the “Hub of Hockey” matched up over two Mondays in February is the highlight of the Boston winter sports scene.

The Beanpot features four schools at which hockey is the premier sport. This passion for hockey is evident in the crowds that flock to the Garden, as student sections fill to the brim and their antics become as much a part of the action as what happens on the ice.

Crowds at the Beanpot annually total over 14,000 for both days, with capacity crowds of 17,850 not an unusual occurrence. While it’s usually possible to get tickets on the day of the event, the Beanpot features crowds that many NHL teams would kill for year in and year out. For the best Beanpot experience, get tickets to the second Monday, when the championship is decided.

Access 3

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 $54 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.

Over the years the TD Garden has undergone a great deal of renovation designed to improve flow into and around the venue as well as the creation of several new social gathering areas throughout the Garden. Some of these areas, such as the Rafters on Level 9, are among the most coveted tickets in the building.

Return on Investment 3

The Beanpot is a single admission event, with one ticket giving access to both games. Loge tickets are priced at $45, with balcony seats at $38. It’s a great bargain to see some of the top ranked teams in the country play some of their most meaningful games of the season. Look for deals on the second Monday, as fans whose schools are eliminated look to get rid of their unwanted tickets.

An unfortunate side effect of holding a tournament at an NHL facility is that you will be paying major league prices for parking and concessions. Expect to pay $30-54 for parking around TD Garden. There are no discounts on concessions, and the prices here rank among the highest in the NHL.

As mentioned earlier, taking the “T” to the Garden not only saves fans the aggravation of fighting the always-present Boston traffic, but is much more economical. A one-way ticket on the T costs $2.75. The Commuter Rail drops fans off directly beneath the arena, and both the green and orange lines stop right across the street from the TD Garden.

Extras 5

The Beanpot has its own Hall of Fame, commemorating those players who have distinguished themselves over their Beanpot careers. Numerous NHL players have played in the Beanpot, including Hockey Hall of Famers Joe Mullen, Fern Flaman and Cooney Weiland.

Proudly displayed among the many championship banners and retired number banners that hang from the rafters of the TD Garden is a banner dedicated to the Beanpot. There is also a display on the concourse honoring the tournament and the previous year’s winner.

The Beanpot has proven to be such an iconic event that the four schools also compete in a women’s Beanpot Hockey Tournament each winter, and a baseball Beanpot in the spring. NHL rosters are littered with players from the four competing schools. If you ask any of them about favorite memories from their careers, the Beanpot will be at or near the top of many lists.

The Sports Museum is perhaps the greatest hidden sporting gem in Boston, it’s a must see for any sports fan visiting the city. 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, from the pros to high school teams. Located within walking distance of the Garden are statues honoring Boston sports icons Bobby Orr, Red Auerbach and Bill Russell.

A final point is awarded for the Beanpot Trophy presentation. Immediately upon conclusion of the final, the Beanpot banner is lowered from the rafters and the new champion’s name is attached. When the Beanpot is awarded to the tournament champions, the players parade it around the ice just like the pros do with the Stanley Cup.

Final Thoughts

Now in its 70th season, Boston’s unofficial hockey championship is the premier college hockey tournament in the nation. Having these four schools, all located within five miles of each other, competing annually would alone make for a compelling tournament. Add in the fact that these teams are regulars in the national rankings, and you have a dream tournament. The Beanpot is a bucket list item for any sports fan, whether or not you even follow college hockey.

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

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