A historic look at the TD Garden before these big changes arrive in 2020
The TD Garden located on 100 Legends Way in Boston, Mass. Photo provided by Delaware North
If you have been anywhere near TD Garden on 100 Legends Way over the past couple of years, you would have seen the absolutely massive amount of construction going on. Well, all of that is part of the "Legendary Transformation" of the TD Garden that was announced back in 2018 and it appears that the most notable changes to our favorite sports arena will be ready to go for the Celtics' upcoming 2020 season.
However, before getting into the specifics of those changes, I thought it would be cool to look at the timeline of the historic Boston site and really get the full scope of how far things have come.
The Old Boston Garden
Opening its doors on November 17th of 1928, the history of the old Boston Garden is truly fascinating. Originally called the Boston Madison Square Garden before being changed to the Boston Garden, the arena was home to some of the most well known moments in Boston sports history.
On the day of its opening, the active President Calvin Coolidge turned on the lights from the White House in Washington D.C. Built under the guidance of boxing promoter Tex Rickard, the Garden was originally just supposed to be for the immensely popular boxing matches happening at the time.
Obviously, it ended up growing out of that and becoming better known as the home of the Celtics and the Bruins, as well as an establishment for various other entertainment events and gatherings.
In terms of the Celtics, the Garden was home to 16 of their 17 total NBA championships and some of the Celtics' greatest teams to ever exist. Legends such as Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and more all suited up to play on the parquet floor in the buildings' 67 years of operation.
Former head coach and president of the Boston Celtics Red Auerbach was especially fond of the old fashioned arena and all of its nooks and crannies. Red, his players, and his opponents were all very much aware of the positives and negatives on both sides when playing a game in the aging Boston Garden.
For the Bruins, they claimed 5 out of their 6 Stanley Cup Championships while calling the Garden their home. Perhaps the most historic moment for the Bruins to take place in the Garden happened on May 10th in the year of 1970.
Playing with the Stanley Cup on the line in overtime, Bruins great Bobby Orr scored the championship-winning goal before being tripped and sent flying in celebration. The Bruins completed a sweep of the St. Louis Blues and won their first Stanley Cup in over 40 years.
With all of these historic moments in Boston sports history combined with the countless political and entertainment events within its' nearly 7 decades of history, it should come as no surprise that when the announcement was made that the Garden would be torn down in favor of the new FleetCenter, a lot of the fan response was mostly negative for nostalgic reasons.
Here's a quote from a 1995 article written for the Boston Globe on the night that the old Boston Garden officially closed its doors for good.
"Old North Church is but a Bobby Orr slap shot away and Old Ironsides perhaps a Larry Bird jump shot from the Garden, but so few Bostonians have been to those shrines while so many - maybe all - have been to the Garden. So when Dan Rather, strangely out of place on this night the Garden closed, brought it all to an end by saying 'A new era begins when the FleetCenter opens,' a cascade of boos rang down from the dusty, musty rafters of Boston Garden...Larry Bird and Red Auerbach and Bob Cousy and John Havlicek all caught the magic of Boston Garden so perfectly when they described their love for a building no one could like but all Boston sports fans could love - it was the Garden fans who made the Garden the Garden.
The brand new FleetCenter was opened in 1995 as soon as the Boston Garden had closed. Three years later, the original arena was demolished and the historic site was officially gone for good.
Eddie Sullivan takes a photo of the demolition of the old Boston Garden. Photo via The Boston Globe
When the building began its construction in 1993, its planned name was the FleetCenter. However, in between the 1993 groundbreaking and the 1995 opening, there was some behind the scenes drama on the naming rights for the brand new arena.
During the time of construction, the naming rights for the new home of the Celtics and the Bruins went back and forth in a bidding war between Fleet Bank and Shawmut Bank. Shawmut actually ended up getting ahead of Fleet for the rights, but that did not last very long at all.
A lot of top-secret negotiations behind the scenes that were occurring during all of this resulted in a merger between Fleet and Shawmut, and the two ended up becoming one. The new garden was once again entitled the FleetCenter and kept the name for a little bit of time.
The FleetCenter prior to becoming the TD Garden. Photo via Eric Boyer
It was in 2004 that things changed once again. That year, FleetBoston merged with the Bank of America and in 2005, Delaware North (the owners of the new garden) was released early from its naming rights agreement.
TD Banknorth bought the rights for $6 million a year, but with that deal not going into effect until July of 2005, the FleetCenter decided to have some fun with the situation.
They started the "YourGarden" campaign, in which fans could bid on eBay for the naming rights of the building for one day. Apparently, the mission ended with 30 different names and a total of $150,633.22 all of which was donated to charities.
Out of all the winning bids, it is said that 2 names were rejected. One of which came from a Yankees fan and a New York Lawyer, who together won one of the auctions and attempted to name it the "Derek Jeter Center." It's pretty obvious as to why it was rejected, but since it was more of a playful joke everyone involved came to an agreement and worked it out. Increasing their bid total to $8600 (for the 86 years of the Bambino curse) the New Yorkers chose the name "New Boston Garden: Home of the Jimmy Fund Champions."
Not long after, the TD Banknorth Garden was official and finally, 3 years later in 2008, TD Banknorth merged with Commerce Bancorp and became TD Bank hence where we are today. A Legendary Transformation
In 2018, Delaware North and its owners the Jacobs family announced a "legendary transformation" of the TD Garden and the surrounding area.
In the planned $100 million makeovers, an additional 50,000 square feet of space over the nine levels would be added over the span of two years.
"The Hub on Causeway" is the center of it all, adding the main entrance in the front for the very first time as well as restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets. To go with it, a brand new and expanded pro shop that is located in the North Station entrance was added.
Along with all of this are the additional aspects of commuter convenience. New parking has already been added totaling in 500 spots as well as a brand new underground tunnel that connects North Station directly to its' orange and green line subway stops.
Inside the arena, the loge and balcony areas will be expanded up 20% and 30% respectively. Within the areas will be new and alternating food and drink stands and more bathrooms to deal with a large number of crowds. New membership clubs and seated areas are also going to be added, but those require additional spending and specialized access.
For the players, a new state of the art locker room is planned to be ready for the 2020 seasons of both the Bruins and the Celtics, with the away locker room to be finished sometime within that season (I'm sure they will take the Red Auerbach route and take their sweet time on those).
While all of this certainly sounds exciting to me and a lot of others, there is one detail that has already been changed which may seem minor overall but to Boston sports faithful its a staple of history. A few days ago pictures were officially released of the brand seats in the Garden itself and the iconic yellow color that carried over from the old garden to the new is now gone.
Along with the new seats, new HDX enhancements and rafters were added which is fantastic. But, I'm sure it will take some getting used to for both myself and a lot of other Celtics' and Bruins fans when we walk into the garden and don't see those iconic yellow seats.
That being said, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things and if the seats are more comfortable I for one will be completely fine with it. Besides, in similar words to the Boston sports legends it was never the building that made the Garden special, but the passion and dedication of the fans. As long as that continues, then so should the success of the home team.
The 2008 NBA Championship Boston Celtics team celebrating the organizations' 17th championship on the floor of the TD Garden. Photo via Jesse D. Garrabrant
With the Bruins home opener just a few weeks away on October 12th, I'm excited to see how far the enhancements have come over the summer and get more details on what is in store for the future.
But what do you think of the new changes to the TD Garden set for the future?? And how do you think they will either improve or worsen the experience of the fan??? Let me know in the comments below.