The original Boston Garden opened its doors in November of 1928; it was constructed at a cost of 4 million dollars and had a capacity for 14,890 spectators. The first professional sports team to call the arena home was the Boston Bruins ice hockey team.
For seventy years it would not only host thousands of regular season and championship games but also numerous civic and artistic events. Among the speakers that addressed a packed arena over the years were world leaders like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy. World class performing artists that played the Boston Garden included James Brown, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and scores of others. The "Greatest Shows on Earth'' when in Boston, like the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus would be found at this indoor stadium.
The most talked about legend of the Garden however, was the parquet floor on which the NBA team, the Boston Celtics, play. Said floor was installed in 1946 at the Boston Arena, with wood extracted from the forests of Tennessee by the Boston Lumber Company. The floor is said to have cost $11,000. At that time, the Celtics played their home games interchangeably at both the Boston Arena (which would later become the Matthews Arena) and the Boston Garden. In 1952 that floor was moved to the Boston Garden, which from that moment on became the exclusive home court of the Celtics until 1995, when the building was closed forever.
The Celtics' parquet floor was the only part of the old structure however, that was moved to the new venue, initially named the Fleet Center. The Fleet Center opened on September 30, 1995, with a construction cost of 160 million dollars. It was built on 3.2-acres just nine inches away from the site of the original facility with a 19,580 capacity. In 1997 the old building was demolished.
Over the years a myth had evolved around the Celtics frequent ability to compete for the championship based in the parquet floor. It was a said that the team could predict which way the ball would bounce off of any given section. But in late 1999 the last game was played on the old floor, (much of which, in reality, had been replaced over the years, one section at a time, due to damages from use.). On January 3, of 2000, a new floor was inaugurated beneath the treads of the team, although some sections of the old parquet floor have been recycled into this new floor, keeping this urban myth alive.
The Parquet floor aside, the home team did have a distinct advantage in the original Boston Garden. The fans sat much closer to the players than in most stadiums as part of the design by boxing promoter Tex Rickard, who wanted the fans to see the sweat dripping off of two opponents in the ring. While this may have raised team morale for home players it almost surely hurt morale for visiting teams when the Boston fans got angry and were that much closer to the area of play.
Despite that advantage, the old stadium had many problems like continuous electrical failures, no air conditioning and a non-regulation size hockey ring.
The new facility was built to overcome the flaws in order to make fans even more comfortable at sporting events and other activities in a modern setting. Due to popular demand, by 2005 it was agreed to change the new buildings name to TD Banknorth Garden, which was immediately restored to Boston Garden by Bostonians.
Today the Boston Garden continues to be home to the National Hockey League team of the Boston Bruins, the National Basket Ball Association team of the Boston Celtics and the National Lacrosse League team of the Boston Blazers.
In addition to hosting major sports, music and entertainment events the multi-purpose arena already hosted a major political event, the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
The facility received major upgrades only 10 years after it was built. In 2006, 20 million dollars were spent on, among other things, the construction of a 20,000 foot expansion of the North Station train concourse below the stadium and the installation of the first high definition scoreboard.
With the local recognition and prestige of this name since 1928, any world class event in the City of Boston will continue to be held at the Boston Garden for the coming decades.
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