Agganis Arena – Boston University Terriers
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Agganis Arena is a multi-purpose facility built on the campus of Boston University. The arena was built on the site of the old Commonwealth Armory. It is named after Harry Agganis, who was nicknamed “the Golden Greek”. Aggains was a star quarterback and first baseman at BU who spurned the NFL for the Boston Red Sox. He died at age 26 from a massive pulmonary embolism. Agganis is considered by many to be the best athlete that Boston University has ever produced. The rink is named after longtime Terrier coach Jack Parker, who spent 40 years as head coach of the hockey team and 47 years at the school overall.
In addition to serving as host to the Boston University hockey team, Agganis Arena has become the top mid-sized arena in Boston, hosting events that are not large enough for the nearby TD Garden.
The BU hockey team is by far the most popular and successful team at the school, having won five national championships, qualified for 22 Frozen Fours and 33 NCAA tournaments. They are also the most successful of Boston’s four Beanpot schools, having won the prestigious tournament 30 of the 62 times it has been held. This has led to the school being nicknamed “Beanpot University”. In addition, 61 former Terriers have made it to the National Hockey League. Six of them have had their name engraved on the Stanley Cup. In addition, dozens of Terriers have represented their countries at the Olympics, including four players from the legendary 1980 United States Olympic team.
Food & Beverage 5
Unlike many college arenas where the concessions seem to be an afterthought, Agganis Arena has an impressive array of options for a venue of its size.
Concession stands are separated by what items they have available. Terrier Grill (chicken tenders, sliders, hot dogs), Terrier Town (burgers, Italian Sausage, chicken fingers), North End Pizza (pizza, calzones, Italian subs) and Commonwealth Concessions (hot dogs, nachos, snacks) offer arena standards mixed in with unique items. Kiosks scattered throughout the concourse sell ice cream, baked goods, and that hockey staple, suchi.
Pepsi products are featured at Agganis Arena. Alcoholic beverages can be purchased here, with a decent variety of beer featured. Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artoirs, Guinness, Angry Orchard and local brew Harpoon are all available.
The atmosphere at a BU Terrier game epitomizes everything that is right about college hockey. Fans who are only familiar with minor league hockey may be disappointed in the lack of overwhelming distractions, as the game is the main attraction at Agganis Arena. While there are some giveaways, t-shirt tosses, dance cams, and the like during play stoppages here, they seem to exist only to keep the many younger fans in attendance occupied during pauses in the action. Hockey fans will not leave the arena feeling like they have been hit over the head with advertisements for two and a half hours, like they do at a typical minor-league tilt.
The atmosphere at Agganis Arena is driven by the large student section. Hockey is the undisputed king of the BU sporting kingdom, and on some night it feels like almost the entire student body shows up to a Terrier hockey game. In fact, on many nights the student turnout is so large that they spill out from the constraints of their section to seats all over the arena. Students come armed with a solid repertoire of chants and routines designed to entertain the home crowd as well as infuriate and distract the opposition. Helping add to the noise at Agganis Arena is an excellent pep band, which, in addition to performing an impressive set list, join in on the fun whenever possible.
Boston University is an urban campus, straddling Commonwealth Avenue for approximately a mile and a half on the Boston/Brookline border. While this area of Boston isn’t considered a popular tourist destination, there are still plenty of things to do in the vicinity.
Fans coming to the BU campus will find plenty of choices if eating before or after the game. Raising Cain is a popular fast food place right across the street from Agganis Arena, specializing in several varieties of chicken fingers. T’s Pub is a popular gathering spot about a block away from the Arena, as is Sunset Cantina, which features Mexican-style fare. There are several excellent Thai restaurants around, including the Brown Sugar Café.
The Paradise Rock Club, known nationally for giving bands like U2 and REM their first area shows, is located a block away from Agganis Arena. It continues to host both local acts and up-and-coming national acts.
Out of town visitors to Boston will be interested to know Kenmore Square and Fenway Park are just over a mile away from the Arena. Not far beyond that are the tourist destinations of Copley Square, the Back Bay, the Boston Common and Chinatown. All are easily accessed by the Green Line, which has stops up and down Commonwealth Avenue.
Hockey is the undisputed king of the sports scene here at Boston University. Terrier fans are dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate. BU averages over 4,500 fans per game at Aggains Arena, or about three-quarters of the arena’s capacity. This number is skewed by some smaller crowds early in the season, as the barn is packed for conference games and local rivals.
The student section, known as the Dog Pound, is the cornerstone of the crowd here. It’s without a doubt one of the most rabid groups of its type in the nation. They arrive early and ready to rock. This student section has an impressive repertoire of rehearsed chants and routines that they perform throughout the game. Although their language can get a bit salty at times, they do their best to make life miserable for the visiting goalie, who gets the privilege of having this crew right behind him for two out of three periods. What happens during the second period when the goalie is at the other end of the ice? BU fans are prepared for that, as well. There is a sign that hangs at the top of the seating bowl which has the word “goalie” printed on it, along with an arrow that points down to the goalie in question. During the second period the sign is flipped over to reveal the word “sieve” along with an arrow, which identifies the visiting goalie as the aforementioned sieve. Good stuff.
The rest of the crowd is made up of alumni and local hockey fans, something of which there is no shortage of in Boston. Of the four Boston schools which make up the legendary Beanpot quartet, BU undoubtedly has the largest and most rabid following.
Driving in Boston is a difficult proposition, as streets in the city, in use since colonial times, are laid out in a seemingly random fashion. Streets are narrow, parking is nearly impossible, traffic is seemingly always backed up, and there are construction projects everywhere to further gum up the works. Should you still wish to drive to a Boston University game, Agganis Arena is actually not very difficult to get to. The BU campus straddles Commonwealth Avenue, one of the major drags in the city, and Agganis Arena is located right on Commonwealth Ave. Driving directions can be found here.
Parking is available in the Agganis Arena Garage, located right behind the rink. Other lots are located within a few blocks of the arena. Detailed directions to the lots can be found here.
The best method for arriving at Agganis Arena, as well as most points in Boston, is to take public transportation, known as the MBTA, or “T”, for short. The Green Line’s B train St. Paul Street and Pleasant Street stops are located just steps from the front door of Agganis Arena.
Fans enter Agganis Arena into a main lobby with a pair of staircases that access the concourse. The concourse completely encircles the seating bowl, and provides some standing room areas. All the concession stands, rest rooms, displays, and luxury boxes are located on this level.
The seating bowl features a very steep pitch, guaranteeing excellent views of the action on the ice. All seating here is in the form of red individual folding seats. The seats are a bit narrow and you may feel cramped while taking in a Terriers game.
The concourse, while clean and modern, can get a bit crowded, especially during intermission. Likewise, lines do form during these times at the concessions and the rest rooms. We can chalk this up to the fantastic crowds at BU games rather than any design flaw.
Return on Investment 4
The one drawback to attending a game at Agganis Arena is that you will be paying more to see a game here than you will at other local colleges. Tickets to Terrier hockey games cost $17.50/$23.50/$27.50, which is right in line with minor league teams in the area, but more than what other colleges in the area charge. There is some action on the secondary ticket market, so bargains can be found by fans who look around a little.
Parking is available in a garage located right behind Agganis Arena as well as a few lots in the vicinity for $10. There is some on-street parking in the area, but don’t count on being lucky enough to find it.
Many fans will opt to save time, money and aggravation by taking the T to Boston University. For a $2.65 fare one way, the Green Line’s B train will drop you off just steps from Agganis Arena’s front door at either the St. Paul or Pleasant Street stops.
Extra points are awarded for the many displays all over the inside of the arena which honor BU’s long and storied hockey history. A statue of longtime coach Jack Parker greets fans as they climb the stairs up to the concourse, as well as a mural honoring outstanding players in BU’s history. One of the luxury boxes is dedicated to Mark Bavis, former BU hockey player who was killed in the attacks on 9/11.
Displays honoring every Terrier to represent their country in the Olympics, every Terrier to play in the NHL, every BU All-American, and members of the Boston University Hockey Hall of Fame line the concourse. Give these displays a look, there are names scattered throughout these displays which will be familiar to even casual hockey fans.
Hanging from the rafters of Agganis Arena are many banners honoring the school’s five NCAA champions, as well as NCAA tournament teams, conference champions, Beanpot Tournament winners and Hobey Baker Award winners. In addition, there are retired number banners honoring coach Jack Parker, Harry Agganis, and Travis Roy, a BU freshman whose career ended eleven seconds after it began when he fell awkwardly into the boards and was paralyzed (if you haven’t checked it out, his book on his life before and after the accident, Eleven Seconds, is an excellent read).
Boston University is arguably the most successful college hockey program in New England, and in Agganis Arena, they have a venue to match. Few venues anywhere can match the energy and amenities offered here. In Boston, where hockey rules, and you can visit a dozen college hockey rinks within an hour’s drive, Agganis Arena rises above them all. It’s a must-see for any true hockey fan.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
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