Boston's Fleet Center opened in late 1995, replacing the aged Boston Garden, a
hallowed ground for one of the Original Six NHL teams and home to that great Celtics
dynasty of the 60's. The old Garden was located downtown atop the old North Station...
the Fleet Center is built ON TOP of the new North Station. When you set foot into this
building, you are immediately confronted with the mix of fans attending an event and
commuters catching their train rides out into the 'burbs.
Getting to the venue
Getting to the Fleet Center means driving up I-93. From the south and from I-90 you exit at
Storrow Drive and turn left. From the north exit at Leverett Circle in Cambridge and follow
the signs across the bridge. Traffic is a major headache in Boston so allow enough time
as backups are frequent. Parking is also a chore here, little free street parking and most
ramps and the garage under the arena charge anywhere from $18-$25 for event parking.
Surface lots are few and far between. Another option is to leave your car at a park and
ride lot, and take the subway or the commuter train, known here as the "T". Either way
make sure you have a plan before heading out.
Outside the venue
Causeway Street runs directly outside the building, and across the street is a tightly
wound neighborhood of city streets with a cornucopia of taverns and some memorabilia
stores and souvenir shops, kind of like the atmosphere around Wrigley Field on a
smaller scale. Special mention here to "The Fours" on Canal Street, an awesome sports
bar and of the oldest in the country. And although Boston's historic landmarks beckon in
other parts of downtown, one can find many historic North End attractions and historic
Faneuil Hall, all within walking distance. As of 2005, much remains to complete the work
on Boston's "Big Dig" project, so much of the area around the arena remains a mess of
construction detours, piles of debris and shuttered overpasses awaiting demolition.
Once completed, the neighborhood around the arena will be forever transformed for the
better, with new roadways and open spaces for downtown parks.
Very bright and colors are generally yellow and white. Since the arena is built on top of
the rail station, one must take a set of escalators from the main lobby up to the arena
lobby. After security check and ticket scan, you then take yet another long escalator ride,
and that takes you to the 100 level concourse.
There are many concessions with a terrific food selection and also several merchandise
kiosks. The "West End Deli" offers sandwich wraps, pita sandwich even a lobster roll
sandwich! We even fond a stand selling Buffalo wings that looked like the real deal. The
main team store is located in the main lobby, off the train station concourse downstairs
and is accessible from the inside or the outside.
Available to club seats holders are two restaurants, Banners and the Premium Club,
both offering upscale dining. The Premium Club offers a la carte items at different food
stations. On the lower level is a membership only Sports Club, Legends, also offering
casual dining. The unique thing about the club level is that it houses the Sports Museum
of New England. The entire concourse is devoted to displays, memorabilia, interactive
features and if you have tickets on this level, allow enough time to take it all in. This
museum is also open on non event days and is a must see for the sports fan.
Man oh man, if you like banners then you have come to the right place - both the Bruins
and the Celtics have a long rich history and it is reflected in their many championship
banners and retired numbers that adorn the rafters. Much of their success, however,
predates the 90s, and today both teams are struggling to find their footing.
What leaves us cold about the Fleet Center is probably the location. We like downtown
sports venues, but with the Big Dig mess, lots of expressway overpasses around the
building and abutting the Cambridge River, this is a tough place to get to and to get out
of, parking is scarce and expensive, and the configuration of the arena suggests that this
is a rail station first, and a sports venue second, as in almost an afterthought. Of course
the old Boston Garden also sat atop the former North Station, so this is just the way it is
here. Still nice amenities, sports museum is outstanding, and a venue with a pretty
seating bowl and clean and bright concourses, so the end result is we rank the Fleet
Center in the middle of the pack.
Food and team store 6
Scoreboard and electronics 5.5
Fan support 6
Location and neighborhood 6
Banners and history 10
In game entertainment 4
Concourses/fan comfort 5
Bonus: NE Sports Museum 5 Train station in building 2.5
Wizards at Boston