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The Gahden

Posted by Jim Botticelli  December 4, 2013 11:26 AM

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Photo from Mike Paxton

"One man practicing sportsmanship is better than fifty teaching it." ... Knute Rockne

The Boston Garden was an arena designed by boxing promoter Tex Rickard, who also built the third iteration of New York's Madison Square Garden. It opened on November 17, 1928 as "Boston Madison Square Garden" (later shortened to just "Boston Garden") and outlived its original namesake by some 30 years. Located on top of North Station, a train station which was originally a hub for the Boston & Maine Railroad and is now a hub for MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak trains, the Garden hosted home games for the Bruins and Celtics, as well as rock concerts, amateur sports, boxing and pro wrestling card shows, circuses, and ice shows. It was also used as an exposition hall for political rallies such as the speech by JFK in November 1960. The Boston Garden was demolished in 1998, a few years after the completion of its new successor arena, the FleetCenter, which is now known as TD Garden.

Tex Rickard, the noted entrepreneur and boxing promoter who built and operated the third Madison Square Garden, sought to expand his empire by building a series of seven "Madison Square Gardens" around the country. Built at a cost of $10 million – over double the price for New York's arena three years earlier – Boston Garden turned out to be the last of the series, a decision fueled by high costs and Rickard's death in 1929. The Garden's first event was on November 17, 1928, a boxing card headlined by Dick Finegan's defeat of Andre Routis. The first team sporting event was held three days later, a hockey game between the Bruins and the  Canadiens who won 1-0. Over 17,000 fans crammed into the stadium, with hundreds of late arrivals trying to gain access. Fights broke out between police and the surging crowd outside.

The Garden's hockey rink was undersized at 58.2 meters (191 ft) long by 25.3 meters (83 ft) wide, some nine feet shorter and two feet narrower than standard (200 feet by 85 feet/61 by 26 meters), due to the rink being built at a time when the NHL did not have a standard size for rinks. This size was even smaller than the original Boston Arena's standard-length 200 ft x 80 ft rink, still in use in the 21st century for college hockey with a new, widened 90 foot upgrade in 1995, as the Boston Arena was the first rink to host the Bruins in 1924-25. The differing setup of the players' benches being on opposing sides of the ice in the Garden, and its non-standard penalty bench locations, threw visiting players off their games. The smaller ice surface allowed the Bruins the opportunity to dump the puck in the offensive zone and then crush their opponents with checks along the boards. Its visitors' dressing room was notoriously small, hot, and underserved by plumbing.

Additionally the Garden had no air conditioning, resulting in fog forming over the ice during some Bruins' playoff games. During Game 5 of the 1984 NBA Finals, the 97-degree heat was so intense that oxygen tanks were provided to exhausted players.

Yet when all is said and done, far more, of course, being said than done, Boston Garden remains inexplicablly linked to DOB DNA in a most curious way. It's an emotional thing. And it's been gone 15 years!

Thanks to Wikipedia for filling in historic holes.

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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