The Other March Madness – Providence
March Madness is associated mainly with one thing: basketball. The name itself just conjures up images of buzzer beaters, Cinderellas and thrilling performances. But there’s a different March Madness and it comes in the form of the NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament which culminates in the Frozen Four. This year the East regional took place at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Normally “The Dunk” plays host to Providence College basketball, and Providence Bruins hockey.
One interesting quirk of the NCAA hockey tournament is that local teams tend to get placed in the closest region. For example this year Providence College was placed at the regional in Providence. Some would argue that this is unfair but the NCAA wants to attract as many fans as possible so they try to get the local teams to get their fans to show up. The NCAA made the right call in my opinion because the Providence College fans packed the joint and really upped the intensity and atmosphere of the entire event.
Providence is a great venue for an event like this. The Dunkin’ Donuts center is situated near many superb restaurants. It is also a short walk away from historic Federal Hill. Here you can find a bounty of Italian food. Andino’s, Siena, and Cassarino’s are all great options. You could also head over to Caserta’s and grab some thick-crust, Sicilian style pizza. You can even stop at Venda Ravioli after the game and bring some fresh pasta home to make yourself. Outside of Italian food, there is something for every taste in Providence. There’s even a great restaurant right outside of the Dunk called The VIG (Try the bacon caramel popcorn). When you’re done eating you can catch a show at PPAC or do some shopping at the Providence Place Mall.
Inside the Dunkin Donuts Center the food options aren’t spectacular. You’ll find the basics like chicken tenders, hot dogs, and pretzels but my recommendation would be to eat before the game. The views at the arena are all very good. The fans at the tournament were all very knowledgeable hockey fans. What’s cool about the NCAA tournament is you have sections of fans from each team doing chants and taunts toward the other team. It fosters a really fun and competitive atmosphere with alumni, students and fans coming together.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center is a very accessible arena as well. There are a good amount of parking lots and streets to park on that are not far from the arena. The hallways can get a bit jammed during intermissions but are otherwise easy to navigate. The bathrooms are clean and well kept.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center is a perfect place to host an NCAA hockey regional in my opinion. It is a perfect size for this type of tournament. It is located in a city that has a lot of great food and entertainment. It is situated in a great hockey area with fans who know the game. It is a great venue for the tournament and I expect it to be back here again in the near future.
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