Dunkin Donuts Center – Providence Bruins
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Providence Hockey Runs on Dunkin’
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center, born as the Providence Civic Center in 1972, was built to house the Providence College basketball team as well as the Providence Reds of the American Hockey League. The facility underwent a massive renovation that was completed in 2008 to modernize the aging facility. “The Dunk,” as it is known locally, is a popular site for national touring acts as well as NCAA basketball and hockey tournaments.
The Providence Bruins are the American Hockey League affiliate of the nearby Boston Bruins. The P-Bruins moved to the Ocean State from Portland, Maine in 1992 and currently enjoy the longest uninterrupted affiliation in the AHL. The team has won one Calder Cup championship in their time in Providence, in 1999.
Providence has a long history in minor league hockey, as they are an original AHL member city. The Reds called Providence home from 1926-1977. The Reds won four Calder Cups and three Fontaine Cups as champions of the Canadian-American Hockey League.
Food & Beverage 3
For a venue the size of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, the concessions available here are quite disappointing. While the menu hits all the expected notes, there is no signature item or real local connection to be found. Even the arena sponsor falls short. There are no donuts or pastries sold at either of the two Dunkin’ Donuts stands here, only coffee.
The majority of the concession stands operate out of food courts on either side of the arena. Menus consist of arena staples such as hot dogs, sausage and pepper sandwiches, pizza slices, burgers and chicken tenders. The only items that might be considered unique are the meatball subs, pulled pork sandwiches, and wraps.
Fans looking for snack food will be satisfied by the wide assortment of fries, pretzels, popcorn, nachos and candy sold at the main stands. In addition, portable carts scattered around the concourse sell Dippin’ Dots and the most popular item at The Dunk, fried dough.
Pepsi products are featured at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Fans looking for adult beverages will be pleased by the wide selection, which features domestic brews such as Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, Yeungling and Blue Moon, imports such as Heineken, and microbrews from Long Trail Brewery. Wine and mixed drinks are also available at the many bar stands around the venue.
Much was made of a “healthy options” initiative jointly announced by the Governor’s office and Dunkin’ Donuts Center back near the beginning of the 2015-2016 season, but the only healthy new additions to the menu (marked by a Department of Health logo on the menu board) are ceaser salads, hummus and chips (at an incredible nine dollars), and roasted peanuts.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center features an incredible game day experience, if you are a nine year old boy. This arena is loud, and I don’t mean that the fans make a lot of noise, although during a big game or a lengthy playoff run P-Bruins fans don’t disappoint in this area. I mean that the sound system is really loud here, to the point where you have to shout to be heard by the people next to you. The game day staff at The Dunk aren’t afraid to use this sound system, either. The music gets cranked up at every play stoppage.
Also central to the game day presentation here is the giant video board hanging over center ice. Unfortunately, this screen is utilized mainly as a giant billboard, as ads run throughout the game. The only hockey highlights to be found on this screen are Providence goals and the occasional fight. Younger fans in attendance love the constant crowd shots displayed during play stoppages, which feature kids jumping around, making noise, and generally doing what kids do. While seasoned hockey fans may not enjoy the noise and activity at a Bruins game, it does bring a lot of energy to The Dunk.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center is located in downtown Providence, within walking distance of a great number and variety of restaurants and attractions. Providence has a reputation as one of the top destinations in the country for foodies, and the area within walking distance of The Dunk reflects the diversity and quality of options in the city as a whole.
Right across the street from The Dunk is Trinity Brewhouse, an award winning brew pub and a popular gathering place for locals and visiting fans. Visitors looking for a more laid-back atmosphere can check out Murphy’s Pub right down the street. Located a short walk from The Dunk is Federal Hill, Providence’s Little Italy, with several nationally-renowned Italian restaurants. If visiting from out of town, you should certainly head here.
Also within a short walk of The Dunk is the Providence Place Mall, an upscale shopping center with several national stores and several more choices for the hungry hockey fan. If visiting during the fall or spring, you may be able to check out Waterfires, an outdoor festival which has been held several weekends every year since 1994, during which eighty cauldrons lining the Providence, Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers are lit on fire. Many other cities have copied Waterfire, but the original started right here in Providence. The full schedule of Waterfire lightings can be found here.
Entertainment options in downtown Providence vary from the nationally renowned Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Performing Arts Center to historic sites such as the Arcade, the nation’s first enclosed shopping center, to the Rhode Island State House. In addition, the famous mansions of Newport are only 45 minutes to the south, and Boston is only 45 minutes to the north.
Providence received the New England hockey equivalent of the golden ticket when they moved the Maine Mariners franchise out of Portland and affiliated with the nearby Boston Bruins. Providence is located only 45 minutes from Boston, and area residents are among the most hockey-crazed Americans you will find anywhere. Two Rhode Islanders (Brian Lawton and Bryan Berard) have been drafted first overall in the NHL Entry Draft, and dozens of skaters from the Ocean State line NHL rosters every year.
The P-Bruins rank near the top of the American Hockey League in attendance annually, and the 2015-2016 season is no different. Providence is averaging over 8,200 fans per game this season, good for fifth place in the AHL. Given the team’s affiliation with the Bruins, the team is also a strong draw on the road, particularly in the many New England cities that compete in the AHL.
To augment the large crowds that turn out for P-Bruins games, the team aggressively recruits groups to attend games at The Dunk. It’s not unusual to see three chorus groups singing patriotic songs before games, plus another couple of groups singing during intermission. Add in youth hockey teams playing on the ice before and after the game as well as during intermissions, and dance squads, karate dojos, and more performing in the lobby during intermission, and the Dunk is abuzz with activity every night.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center is located in downtown Providence, and is easy to get to via Interstate 95. Simply take exit 21 (Atwells Avenue) if traveling from the north, or exit 22A (Memorial Boulevard) if traveling from the south. Be warned that traffic in and around Providence can be quite heavy if visiting on a weekday, so prepare to take some extra time in arriving.
There is ample parking in many surface lots and garages around the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, ranging in price from $10 to $25 depending on the time of year and day of week you are visiting. Many fans will park at the nearby Providence Place Mall garage, which will validate your parking at a discounted rate of $5. Beware, this may not be an option during the Christmas season, as it will take you sometime to depart the crowded garage. In fact, the holiday season overall is a difficult time to get around downtown, as plays at the nearby Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Performing Arts Center make downtown a very popular destination.
Veteran fans will seek out the plentiful on-street parking in the vicinity of the arena. Unfortunately, the city of Providence has greatly reduced the number of available on-street parking spots in the downtown area. Also be aware that parking meters are now in operation downtown until 9pm, eliminating the free evening parking that fans enjoyed for many years.
Fans utilizing public transportation will be pleased to know that both Kennedy Plaza, the hub of the local RIPTA bus line, and Union Station, the local Amtrak stop, are located a short walk from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center features a large seating bowl with excellent views of the ice. All seats at the arena are individual folding arena seats. The concourse and restrooms received a makeover in 2008, and the arena is fairly easy to get around. Expect lines to form in the food court and restrooms during intermission.
Fans visiting Providence should be aware that beginning in spring 2016 the traffic patterns in downtown will be changing. Gone will be the confusing one way streets that filled the area. While the end result should be a downtown that is easier to navigate, the transition may be difficult for long-time drivers in the area.
Return on Investment 3
Box office prices for Providence Bruins games are $40 (100 level center), $35 (100 level end) and $28 (200 level). While these prices are fairly expensive for this level of hockey, the Bruins offer several ticket specials. $5 off specials, $10 off specials, and buy one get one free offers are held every night of the season. Check the team website for particulars.
Parking in the area can also be expensive. Fans looking to save a few dollars should look for on-street parking or one of the less expensive parking garages in the area.
Providence is an original AHL city, with a professional hockey history that predates the league. Hanging from the rafters of The Dunk are banners commemorating championships won by the Providence Bruins and their predecessor, the Providence Reds. Located in the lobby are plaques honoring local soldiers, the Providence Bruins 1999 Calder Cup championship team, and Providence player of the century Zellio Toppazzini.
Be sure to seek out the historical touches that abound around the arena, in particular the interactive kiosks on the far side of the concourse that commemorate the long history of the Providence Reds. The Reds have their own historic society that continues to operate today. The Bruins honor the city’s hockey history by wearing throwback Reds uniforms most seasons.
Fans looking to pick up some Providence or Boston Bruins gear will enjoy the well-stocked Pro Shop located at The Dunk. In addition, there is a small kiosk with a smaller selection on the concourse.
The Dunkin’ Donuts Center and Providence are frequently listed among the top destinations for fans who travel the American Hockey League circuit. The combination of a great downtown area, modern mid-sized arena, and fantastic fan support makes this venue one of the top rinks in the league. With an NHL team less than an hour away, six other professional teams and 20 division one college teams in New England, a visit to Rhode Island is a must for any true hockey fan.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
Courtyard Providence Downtown
23 Exchange Terrace
Providence, RI 02903
Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown
58 Weybosset St
Providence, RI 02903
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