History of the Boston Arena

🏒 Skating through the history of the world’s oldest ice hockey arena, which you can still visit in Boston.

Inside the Matthews Arena and the empty ice hockey rink.

Northeastern University purchased the facility and re-named it Matthews Arena in 1979.

Matthews Arena is home to Northeastern University’s men’s basketball + men’s and women’s ice hockey teams. But did you know that this space was called Boston Arena until 1979? Dating back to 1910, the arena houses the world’s oldest artificial ice sheet and is considered to be the world’s oldest ice hockey arena.

Let’s skate through the history of this old ice house. Since its groundbreaking on Oct. 11, 1909, this building has seen many championship teams + faced its share of adversity.

If only these walls could talk — here are just a few iconic moments in its history:

  • The Boston Bruins played their first home game in the building against the Montreal Maroons on Dec. 1, 1924.
  • The first-ever Boston Celtics game was played on Nov. 5, 1946, where Chuck Connors smashed the glass backboard.
  • Local hockey tournament the Beanpot started at the arena in December 1952.

In addition to sporting achievements, convocations and graduations are conducted at the arena, which has welcomed presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. Past arena visitors also include Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhardt, James Michael Curley, and Reverend Billy Graham.

The historic arena has also survived two fires: the first in 1918, and another in 1948. Structurally, the arena has seen numerous renovations over the years.

Today, the Victorian lobbies greets guests for collegiate games and events with some new additions, including a new roof, outfitted locker rooms, updated seats, new press box, and a new video scoreboard. The 1995 renovation expanded the ice surface to 200-by-90 ft of skating surface, making the arena the largest rink in Boston (yes, its surface is a bit bigger than the Bruins’ home ice at TD Garden).

Pro tip: Folks with a Northeastern ID card can enjoy the designated hours for free open skating.

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