Hockey Players

Dec. 21, 1952

Since it’s been 40 years since abandoning it’s given name, mentioning the Boston Arena may well lead to some head scratching.

In 1979 Northeastern University bought the 70-year-old structure on St. Botolph Street, which was partially destroyed by a fire and rebuilt in late 1918 and reopened on New Year’s Day, 1921. It became Matthews Arena in 1982, in honor of Northeastern alum George Matthews, who picked up much of the tab for modern refurbishing.

On this date in 1952, the arena’s future as a sports venue looked dark. A group of investors from New York made a verbal agreement to buy it and turn it into a manufacturing plant featuring a variety of retail outlets. Its final day as an arena was scheduled for March 15, 1953.

Thankfully, the deal never went into writing. The howling from college, high school and youth hockey leagues that would be displaced must have played a role in keeping the arena going.

While the NU hockey and basketball teams now have the arena to themselves, its history is rich. Boston College, Boston University and Harvard hockey teams called it home until all built their own arenas. The Bruins, the Celtics and the New England Whalers all played regular-season games there. Major boxing matches, professional wrestling and concerts booked time there.

The current capacity – 4,666 for hockey, 5,066 for basketball – has stayed abut the same over the years. To its credit, Northeastern has maintained its historic feel while modernizing it, spending $12 million in a 2009 overhaul, partially aimed at bringing it in line with ADA requirements.

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