Only Boston Garden can rival the old Chicago Stadium's intensity of fan support. Nestled around the structure like ants in a teacup, the "Gallery Gods" spur on their beloved Bruins with typical Beantown fervor. It was the least fancy of all NHL arenas, the Garden put up no pretence. It was purely and simply a place to behold the game of hockey.
"People talk about the ghosts of Boston Garden," says Pat Burns, the former coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Bruins. "There was so much history in that building, and old-time hockey used to exist there. Players always got up to play in there."
The fans applauded every physical play in Boston Garden, and their proximity to the ice surface made the building extremely intimidating for opponents. "It was a tough building to play in," said Paul Ysebaert, former winger of the Detroit Red Wings, "They had a small ice surface, and they got the right players to perform in that type of rink. Every game was tough, with lots of bumping and grinding. You had to change your game plan to mold into that kind of rink."
October 31, 1997 - The old Bruins' home is still standing next door to the Fleet Center, but finally they're ripping it down. There hasn't been any guided tours through the building that was long on tradition but short on house-cleaning. For now, they've started ripping out the asbestos in the dark hulk. That'll take months. "When do they get to the rats?" laughed Ted Green. Eventually, the wrecking ball will come down but nobody's decided what to put on the vacant lot. Most likely an office tower/hotel on the site.
Delaware North dismantles landmark Boston Garden
Two years after being shuttered, the dismantling of the fabled Boston Garden has begun.
Buffalo-headquartered Delaware North Cos. Inc., owners of the Garden and its new neighbor, the Fleet Center along with one of its primary tenants, the Boston Bruins, has started the demolition of the fabled sports and entertainment venue.
The legends of Larry Bird, Bobby Orr and Gerry Cheevers have moved on.
Delaware North held one final farewell to the Garden on Sept. 30 before they shut the doors for good and preliminary demolition work began.
By all accounts it was a sad, but necessary moment.
"In the end, everyone realized the Boston Garden had reached a certain level of obsolescence," said Brian Fallon, the point man on the Garden demolition/redevelopment project.
Fallon works with the Boston firm of Meredith & Grew Inc., which Delaware North hired to redevelop the site.
The parallels between the Boston Garden and Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium are worth noting.
In both cases, the buildings date to the first half of the century. The Boston Garden opened in 1928 and the Aud opened in 1940.
In terms of being significant revenue generators, a key element in the 1990s version of the sports and entertainment business, the Aud and Boston Garden were as outdated as an 8-track tape.
Both sit on prime real estate in their respective cities.
"The Garden is a gateway location to North Boston," Fallon said.
The Aud could be a gateway to the various waterfront redevelopment plans being championed by Mayor Anthony Masiello.
The demolition cost for both are about the same. The price tag is roughly $5 million.
What makes the Garden's demolition work very tricky is that in some instances there is less than one foot between the old building and the Fleet Center. Add to the fact that several Massachusetts Transit Authority subway trains pull into the adjoining North Station and you have some factors that make for a tougher than usual process.
Those two factors virtually rule out imploding the building.
"It is a very delicate staging process," Fallon said. "Put the same building in the middle of a prairie and you'd have no trouble imploding it. But here we are working on a very constrained site."
Bear in mind, the Garden has a roughly 88,000-square-foot floor plan and is about 12 stories tall. It also sits in the middle of very busy section of Boston.
Basically, the venerable old Garden will be taken down in sections. The interior and environmental work began last week and will probably last until February. The exterior work will follow and should take until next summer to complete.
To limit traffic tie-ups, most of the debris will be trucked away at night.
"This is all just a matter of planning," Fallon said. "It's something that's done all the time in urban conditions."
Once the site is cleared, Meredith & Grew, acting on Delaware North's behalf, will look at new development possibilities for the land.
"Given where we are, this shouldn't be a problem," Fallon said.
Image of the The Boston Garden in 1988 by David A. Litterer whom we thank very much
Plans Expected for Boston Site
May 6, 2001
Delaware North Companies, owner of the FleetCenter, reportedly was poised last week to complete a deal with a Boston-area real estate developer to plan and develop a site in front of the arena, a parking lot where the Boston Garden once stood. According to a Boston Globe report, the development could include three office towers of up to 30 stories with a mix of retail, office and hotel space; a possible six-story atrium; and the addition of significant square footage to the arena itself that could be used to expand existing concourses.