TD Garden – Beanpot Tournament
Held annually on the first two Mondays in February, the Beanpot Hockey Tournament is the oldest and most prestigious college hockey tournament in the country. Pitting the four Division One hockey teams in Boston (Northeastern, Harvard, Boston College and Boston University) against each other, the tournament consists of back to back doubleheaders on the aforementioned Mondays. The tournament dates back to 1952, having been contested at three sites: the Boston Arena, the Boston Garden, and now the TD Garden.
Initially started as a way to fill a couple of empty dates at the old Boston Arena, the Beanpot has grown exponentially since it was first contested. The Beanpot is Boston hockey’s unofficial championship. It almost doesn’t matter what happens in conference play or the national tournament afterward. In Boston, if your team wins the Beanpot, you are Boston’s college hockey champions.
The TD Garden, formerly known as the Fleet Center and the TD BankNorth Garden, is the home of both the NBA’s Boston Celtics and the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Built just nine inches from the original Boston Garden, it is named after its sponsor, TD Bank. In addition to the annual Beanpot Tournament, the Bruins and the Celtics, the TD Garden has hosted the NHL All-Star Game, Frozen Four, NCAA Basketball Tournament Regionals and Hockey East Championships.
Food & Beverage 4
Unlike many other major league venues, TD Garden doesn’t feature any signature concession items or oversized options. Even though not every stand is open for the Beanpot, there is more than enough variety and local flavor here to satisfy any hungry hockey fan.
Stands at the TD Garden are organized by their menu items, so hungry fans may have to do some searching to find what they want. All the expected arena staples can be found at the many stands that line the concourse, including Big Bad Burgers, Sal’s Pizza, Back Bay BBQ, Hub Hot Dogs, Lucky’s Chicken and the Taqueria. Fans looking for something more unique can head to North End Butcher (sausages and jumbo hot dogs), Garden Grill (grilled sandwiches), Boston Common (grilled cheese, fries, clam chowder) or Causeway Carvery (deli sandwiches).
Vegetarian, vegan, kosher and gluten-free items are available throughout TD Garden. A more in-depth description of the menu, including a map of all concessions, can be found here.
TD Garden boasts an impressive selection of adult beverages, which are available during this NCAA event. Both the Craft Beer Garden on level seven and the Hub Bar on level four feature a great selection of craft beers from throughout New England and beyond. If craft brews are not your thing, TD Garden also offers national brews at the concession stands. Coca-Cola products are featured at TD Garden.
Be warned that you will be paying NHL prices for your food at the Beanpot.
Among the best facets of any college hockey game are the noise and excitement generated by a school’s pep band and student section. Now, multiply a typical college hockey crowd by four and you have the Beanpot experience.
All four schools represented in full force for the Beanpot, with rivalries switching like some reality show based on the day’s matchups. In addition to packed student sections in the balcony, alums and local fans come out to support their teams in great numbers.
At the Beanpot, you have four schools where hockey is the premier sport, vying for bragging rights in a city where pucks are king. Student sections compete to one-up each other in a (mostly) friendly back and forth. There is no need for piped in music here, the pep bands make sure the Garden is filled with noise during all play stoppages.
Despite the fact that three of these schools are members of the Hockey East Conference, and Beanpot games do not count in league standings, these games are among the most highly competitive college hockey games you will see anywhere. It’s almost a given that at least one of these teams will be near the top of the national rankings come Beanpot time. You would be hard pressed to find a more intense atmosphere, even during the national tournament. The battle for Boston hockey bragging rights is taken most seriously.
One of the best outcomes of the seemingly endless Big Dig project was the removal of the old, ugly elevated subway tracks and highways that surrounded the old Boston Garden. Now, much of the area has opened up, green spaces surround the Garden, and Causeway Street has reconnected with the adjacent North End. New restaurants, hotels and other businesses have moved into the area, dive bars have been replaced by more upscale clubs, and revitalization has taken hold.
Packed into the few blocks directly across the street from the TD Garden is a great variety of bars and restaurants. Fans looking for just a quick bite to eat can choose from Halftime King of Pizza, D’Angelo’s Sandwiches, Qdoba Mexican Grill, or Subway. For a proper Garden experience, locals choose from one of the many outstanding eateries in the neighborhood. The Four’s was named the best sports bar in the United States by Sports Illustrated in 2005 and has menu items named after many Boston sports icons. Boston Beer Works is a popular destination due to its selection of craft brews. Out of towners should sample the Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale. Hockey fans flock from all four Beanpot schools to The Harp, The Greatest Bar, Sports Grille Boston, Hurricane O’Reilly’s, and many other fine dining establishments in the immediate area of the Garden.
Walk a few blocks past this cluster of buildings, and you will arrive at Faneuil Hall, a collection of restaurants, shops, and clubs that is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Located here is a statue of Boston sports legend Red Auerbach lighting up one of his legendary victory cigars after yet another Celtic win. Be sure to check out the Union Oyster House, Boston’s oldest restaurant and home of the city’s best clam chowder.
Fans looking for even more dining options should take a left onto Causeway Street after leaving the Garden and cross over I-93 into the North End, home of some of the finest Italian restaurants in the area. Hockey fans flock to Bruin legend Ray Bourque’s restaurant, Tresca. Be sure to grab a couple of cannolis from Mike’s Pastry while checking out the local flavor, or head to Regina’s Pizzeria, named as one of the top places to get a slice of pizza in the country. Also located in the North End are some buildings of historical significance, such as the Old North Church and Copp’s Hill Burial Ground.
Fans looking to explore Boston’s many historical sites can follow the Freedom Trail, which passes only a few blocks from the Garden. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile long brick-lined route that connects 16 of Boston’s most significant historic sites. This walking tour winds throughout the city and is one of the best ways to explore Boston.
There is an old adage in American hockey circles that states that to find the most knowledgeable, passionate fans in the United States, head to the three “M’s” (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan). Massachusetts, and by extension New England, is one of the most hockey-crazed areas you will find anywhere, with a dedicated fan base that can rival anything found in Canada.
The Beanpot features four schools at which hockey is the premier sport. This passion for hockey is evident in the crowds that flock to the Garden, as student sections pack to the brim and become as much a part of the action as the players on the ice.
Crowds at the Beanpot annually total over 14,000 for both days, with capacity crowds of 17,565, not an unusual occurrence. While it’s usually possible to get tickets on the day of the event, the Beanpot features crowds that many NHL teams would kill for on a regular basis. For the best Beanpot experience, get tickets to the second Monday, when the championship is decided.
Boston is certainly not an easy city for visitors to navigate. City streets, some of which date all the way back to colonial times, are laid out in seemingly random directions. Those fans brave enough to try and drive to the Garden should be warned that Boston traffic is seemingly always snarled. While the Garden is located adjacent to Interstate 93, even the most direct route off the highway (Exit 26) requires several twists and turns to reach the arena. It is best to bring along someone who is familiar with the crooked streets of the city.
A much simpler and more efficient method for getting to the Garden is to take public transportation, known in Boston as the “T.” The TD Garden is located directly on top of the North Station MBTA commuter rail station, bringing in fans from all parts of suburban Boston. For fans taking the subway, both the green and orange lines stop at North Station, right across the street from TD Garden, making it easily accessible from any part of the city and beyond. Subway fares are $2.75, making taking the T to a Bruins game a much more affordable option than driving.
Although there are many options for parking in the area around the Garden it can be quite expensive to leave your car anywhere in the vicinity. There is a 5-level garage located directly underneath the Garden, but it will run you $48 to park there for a game. There are several surface lots in the immediate area, as well as numerous parking garages, ranging in price from $35-$40 for the event. Despite the Garden’s downtown location, there is little on-street parking to be found.
The ongoing construction of “The Hub on Causeway,” a mixed-use development adjacent to TD Garden, has impacted the immediate area around the facility. This project will continue to impact traffic around the Garden until 2021.
Fans can now enter the TD Garden through the new entry plaza on Causeway Street directly into North Station or take escalators to the second level. The first floor contains a small food court, arena ticket booths, and the terminus for the MBTA commuter rail and Amtrak trains. The second floor is home to the entrance of the arena and the Pro Shop powered by Reebok. From here, more escalators take fans up to the loge (level four), suite (levels five and six), and balcony (level seven) levels.
Concourses at the TD Garden are clean and bright. Murals depicting famous moments that have occurred here and at the old Boston Garden line the walls. The concourses, particularly on level seven, can get crowded during intermissions, but are generally easy to navigate.
The seating bowl at TD Garden consists of black and yellow folding stadium seats with good views of the action from all areas. Some sections are a bit cramped but are not overly uncomfortable. Restrooms are plentiful, but lines do form during intermissions.
Return on Investment 3
The Beanpot is a single admission event, with one ticket gaining access to both games. Lower level seats cost $50, while upper-level tickets are $43 and $35. It’s a great bargain to see some of the top-ranked teams in the country play some of their most meaningful games of the season. Look for deals on the second Monday, as fans whose schools are eliminated look to get rid of their unwanted tickets.
An unfortunate side effect of holding a tournament at an NHL facility is that you will be paying major league prices for parking and concessions. Parking can run as high as $48 in the lots and garages around TD Garden, and concessions are not discounted for the Beanpot. You will be paying the same prices Boston Bruins fans pay for food, which rank among the highest in the NHL.
Taking the “T” to the Garden not only saves fans the aggravation of fighting the always-present Boston traffic but is much more economical. A one-way ticket on the T costs $2.75, eliminating the hassle of dealing with rush hour traffic and overpriced parking. The Commuter Rail drops fans off directly beneath the arena, and both the green and orange lines stop right across the street from the TD Garden.
The Beanpot has its own Hall of Fame, commemorating those players who have distinguished themselves over their Beanpot careers. Countless NHL players have played in the Beanpot, including Hockey Hall of Famers Joe Mullen and Cooney Weiland.
Proudly displayed among the many championship banners and retired number banners that hang from the rafters of the TD Garden is a banner dedicated to the Beanpot. There is also a display on the concourse honoring the tournament and the previous year’s winner.
The Beanpot has proven to be such an iconic event that the four schools also compete in a women’s Beanpot Tournament each winter, and a baseball Beanpot in the spring. NHL rosters are littered with players from the four competing schools. If you ask any of them about favorite memories from their careers, the Beanpot will be near the top of many lists.
The Sports Museum is perhaps the greatest hidden sporting gem in Boston, it’s a must-see for any sports fan visiting the city. Located on levels 5 and 6 of the Garden, The Sports Museum features items celebrating the city of Boston’s long and storied sports history, from the pros to high school teams. Located within walking distance of the Garden are statues honoring Boston sports icons Bobby Orr, Red Auerbach, and Bill Russell.
A final point is awarded for the Beanpot Trophy itself. Short of witnessing the awarding of the Stanley Cup, there may be no better trophy presentation in hockey. Immediately upon conclusion of the final, the Beanpot banner is lowered from the rafters and the new champion’s name is attached, and when the trophy is awarded the winning team parades it around the Garden just like the pros do with the Stanley Cup.
Boston’s unofficial city championship is the longest running and a premier college hockey tournament in the nation. Having these four schools, all located within five miles of each other, competing annually would alone make for a compelling tournament. Add in the fact that these teams are regulars in the national rankings, and you have a college hockey fan’s dream tournament. The Beanpot is a bucket list item for any serious hockey fan, whether or not you even follow college hockey.
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Among the best facets of any college hockey game are the noise and excitement generated by a school’s pep band and student section. Now, multiply a typical college hockey crowd by four and you have the Beanpot atmosphere. All four schools represent in full force for the Beanpot, with rivalries switching like some reality show based on the day’s matchups. In addition to packed student sections in the balcony, alums and local fans come out to support their teams in great numbers.
Boston’s unofficial city championship is the longest running and premier college hockey tournament in the nation. Having these four schools, all located within five miles of each other, competing annually would alone make for a compelling tournament. Add in the fact that these teams are regulars in the national rankings, and you have a college hockey fan’s dream tournament. The Beanpot is a bucket list item for any serious hockey fan, whether or not you even follow college hockey.