The return of the Garden sparks a wave of nostalgia
by Diana Aramburu
DID YOU KNOW?
As Delaware North Companies, owner and operator of Boston’s
FleetCenter, looked to negotiate a deal for a permanent naming rights partner, they
auctioned off single-day naming rights to the venue on eBay. Bostonians cringed
on March 1, 2005 when one jokester attempted to rename the FleetCenter the DerekJeterCenter.
Calls of protest from locals poured in, and eventually a friend of the bidder ponied
up extra dough to instead name it The Jimmy Fund Center, in honor of the Boston
Red Sox's favorite charity.
It was probably the least fancy of all NHL arenas and the most unconventional
NBA court, but the old Boston Garden still holds a special place in the hearts of
Celtics and Bruins fans—even those who never set foot in the place. The Garden,
much like the fans it housed for decades, wasn’t pretentious—it was
full of rats, quirks and warped floorboards, but in its 70 years, it housed stars
like Larry Bird, Bobby Orr and Gerry Cheevers. Considered one of the most revered
landmarks of 20th century New England, the Boston Garden on Causeway Street was
more than just a sports arena, until its dismantling in September 1995. It drew
crowds to watch everyone from The Beatles to Disney on Ice, and served as a forum
for political events and speakers such as FDR, Churchill and Kennedy.
A recently-signed 20-year deal has returned the Garden name to the
home of the Celtics and Bruins. The arena we knew as the FleetCenter for the last
decade will now be the TD Banknorth Garden until 2025.
While most New England sports fans would agree that the current 19,600-seat arena
is flashier and shinier, the arena lacks some of the old Garden’s trademark
charms. In the Garden's heyday, for example, Celtics legends like Bob Cousy were
said to have used the wooden parquet floor’s warped boards to steal dribbles
and passes from opposing teams. (The parquet—perhaps the only legendary floor
in history—was moved to the FleetCenter in 1995, and later retired in December
1999.) Even today, though, fans have the opportunity to purchase pieces of the parquet,
which can range from a minimal $25 to $150 for framed and autographed pieces. The
continued market for such souvenirs suggests that the old Garden’s popularity
has hardly faded, and that the return of the Garden name should be a slam dunk success.