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Northeastern looks at replacing venerable arena

Boston Arena in the early part of the 1900s

Boston Arena in the early 1900s (source).

The Huntington News reports that Northeastern is considering whether to build a new arena to replace Matthews Arena, which in its more than 100 years of history has been home to not just Northeastern teams but, back when it was called the Boston Arena, the Celtics and Bruins.

It also once hosted wrestling, boxing, presidents, revivalists, tennis and, on Oct. 2, 1970, the Ike and Tina Turner Review with the Ikettes.

Northeastern bought the arena in 1977 and renamed it in a ceremony that included House Speaker Tip O'Neill.

A bunch of skating cards, at the Skating Club of Boston carnival in 1936 (photo by Richard Merrill):

Skaters dressed as playing cards

The arena in the 1920s (source; compare the original entrance with today's):

Boston Arena in the 1920s

Photos from the BPL's online collections posted under this Creative Commons license.



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The Doors played there on April 10, 1970. A live album was released of that show.

Wikipedia says this about it:

The band performed two shows, one starting at 7 pm and a second scheduled for 10 but not actually starting until past midnight. Jim Morrison appears to be intoxicated during the entire latter show, and continued drinking heavily throughout the performance. The late start ended with the venue's owners cutting power to the stage to force the end of the concert.

Ray Manzarek, the band's keyboardist recalls the concert as "manic, wild, crazy, intoxicated", adding:

… the shaman was intoxicated in Boston. I don't know if you're allowed to even be a shaman in Boston. But Morrison sure as hell did it! Still, as intoxicated as Jim was, it was never a problem. Even in his most intoxicated state, he'd hit the musical cues. When we’d play "Light My Fire", you could solo as long as you wanted – and sometimes we did! – and then Jim would scream, improvise, add poetry, or whatever, sang some things that he felt like doing.

Voting closed 21

I was there that night still in high school. Morrison went through his usual case of bud during the show and what was remarkable was the light police presence. Perhaps the promoter was trying to save some coin. It was probably the reason why he didn't want an extended encore as the overtime would be hurtful.
When they cut the power in the middle of a song, Jim picked up the mike stand and pounded the stage with the base of it with perhaps five BPD officers in front of it nervously wondering what they could do if things went south.
Some senior officer must've told the promoter to power up the stage and take the hit or he'd be charged with inciting a riot or something.
Now this is rock and roll!

Voting closed 22

Has the Emerald Necklace Conservancy weighed in yet?

Voting closed 28

I saw Lenny Kravitz and Blind Melon at Matthews Arena back 30 years ago. I've seen plenty of NU Hockey there too and plenty of NU graduations too.

Voting closed 24

Could've reached Cobain stardom levels had he lived.

Voting closed 16

How big an expansion? and next year? And each year to come?

Voting closed 26

Plate or Platter?

I don't understand the question, and I won't respond.

Voting closed 21

Voting closed 14

Also the site of the bloodiest rock n roll riot in Boston history, when the cops pulled the plug in the middle of Chuck Berry's set in 1958, leading to dozens of stabbings and beatings and inspiring Mayor Haynes to try banning rock in Boston. Podcast.

Voting closed 18

When MIT was building the new rink in the 70s, they leased the Arena for IM games. Boy, that place was the dumpiest dump I ever dressed in - and having played years of local beer leagues, that is saying something (looking at you, UMass Boston, with the dressing rooms in the corner of the actual rink behind a cinder block wall) - there were rats, debris, awful smells worse than our old pads even. The ice itself was pretty good, though.

Years later, I played there in another beer league and the place was cleaned up and in good shape. Still rats, though. I would sit in my car behind the rink and watch the rat civilization running into tunnels under the dumpsters there. But inside the rink, the workers had adopted several cats which wandered the place.

Still the best place in Boston to watch a game, though, with that overhanging balcony.

Voting closed 14

I graduated from MIT in 1990 and played one year for MIT hockey(intramurals the rest of my time there). I also played adult league games at Matthews and UMass-Boston, and you are right about the latter, those "locker rooms" in the corners with the freezing metal benches.

Voting closed 14

I'm an avid fan of local hockey and have spent many nights watching hockey at Matthews(and some nights playing there as well, in my adult league). It's a terrific place to watch a game, and NU has kept it up nicely. When I was at the BU-NU game back in late January, the west balcony was closed off, while the other end was packed. A few days later, I saw a story similar to this in College Hockey News alluding to possible structural issues. If Matthews needs to be replaced, it will be sad to see it go, but it has served Boston well, especially in its hockey history.



Voting closed 13

Northeastern has no respect for Boston Sporting Institutions. It's not like Matthews Arena is non-functional or anything. They just want to put their brand on a new arena.

The Boston Red Stockings used to play in The Union Grounds aka The South End Grounds now home to Northeastern University's Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex. I wonder if Northeastern at least put up a plaque commemorating the parcels prior usage?

I saw my first and only Boston Bruins game and a whole bunch of 'Pro' Wrestling at Boston now Matthews Arena.

I'm taking bets that if a new arena is built it will be called
"Northeastern University's fill in the name of the biggest donor Arena"

Voting closed 10