I have always wanted to see what the NHL looks like in arenas other than Honda Center / Arrowhead Pond, and last weekend I finally got that chance. What follows is a loosely organized list of observations about a number of different aspects of my experience.
Vital Stats, Courtesy of Wikipedia
|Arena||Opened||Construction Cost||Construction Cost in 2014 Dollars||Seating Capacity (hockey)|
|Honda Center||June 1993||$123 million||$222 million||17,174|
|TD Garden||September 1995||$160 million||$261 million||17,565|
Honda Center, as most or all of you know very well, is scenically located a slapshot away from the 57 freeway in the center of a gigantic parking lot. TD Garden looks a little different. It's in the middle of Boston, surrounded by a bunch of tightly packed roads and buildings. The good thing is that it's practical for plenty of folks to walk or take public transport to get to the game, as opposed to everyone driving, but I suppose that's more a reflection of the difference between the cities themselves than the actual arenas.
One significant drawback is that (as far as I could tell) there is only one main pedestrian entrance, so most of the fans are funneled into one large doorway, creating a massive conglomeration of impatient Bostonians (because they weren't impatient enough to begin with) that extends all the way to the Bobby Orr statue on Causeway Street. Contrast this with Honda Center, which has four equally accommodating entrances and therefore four reasonable queues, one on each side of the building.
Some of the hallways in the Garden might be a little narrower than those of Honda Center, and the lower bowl is perhaps a tad less steep, meaning most of the seats are slightly further away from the ice, but overall the arena looks very similar to the Ducks'. This isn't very surprising, considering they were built two years apart and hold approximately the same amount of people. More than anything, this made me want to watch a game at an older arena that would presumably have some more character (i.e. unique quirks and flaws), because TD just felt like another Honda Center once you were inside. I expect most arenas these days would give me the same impression.
Food and Drink
Pretty much the same as Honda Center in terms of quality and price. It's a hockey game. You aren't here to save money on beer.
The simple fact of all this being in Boston means that the fans are going to be louder, ruder, and cruder. In none of these attributes did they disappoint. Please note that this is not a criticism, merely an observation on the social norms of a different culture. It simply isn't rude to be rude in Boston.
What I was most curious about was the level of hockey knowledge. Boston, owing to the fact that it has to deal with a strange phenomenon known to the scientific community as "winter," has a reputation for knowing how ice hockey works. The same cannot be said for the reputations of most sun belt teams, including the Ducks. My experience last Saturday, however, told me otherwise. The most vocal fans at TD Garden, just like the most vocal at Honda Center, seemed to have a minimal grasp on basic concepts like icing, offside, and goals-aren't-always-the-goalie's-fault. From this I assume that, like the Ducks, the Bruins have plenty of knowledgeable fans attending their games, probably more than the Ducks do, but, like the Ducks, they tend not to be the loudest.
The Game Itself (Capitals 4, Bruins 0)
I'd never seen Alex Ovechkin live before, so this was a treat. Would I have liked to see the Bruins score one goal just to get a better feel for the crowd's energy? Probably. But when the guy three seats down from me tried, failed, but kept trying anyway to get an "Ovechkin sucks" chant going, I can't say I was disappointed when this happened:
And then this:
I'm curious as to what everyone here at AC thinks of Honda Center, and any other arenas you've been to. Favorites, least favorites? Let your voice be heard.