HAWKERS PULLED FROM FLEETCENTER
November 30, 2000
Copyright 2000 MediaVentures
Boston's FleetCenter has stopped sending its seven hawkers into the stands selling food and drink. The venue's owner, Delaware North, says the sales people are a
distraction to the games and it has been considering the move for some time. Some fans say it's because of low attendance at the arena. Attendance for both the Celtics and
the Bruins has been down this year.
FLEETCENTER TO INSTALL CHOICESEATS
November 16, 2000
Copyright 2000 MediaVentures
Boston's FleetCenter has become the latest venue to take technology directly to the fan in the seats. The arena has contracted with ChoiceSeat to put its interactive
technology in the building this year. The system will be at least partially operational during this NBA and NHL season for fans in luxury suites and at kiosks in the concourse
area. The system may be expanded to other seats later.
The SmartSeat screens will give fans access to player and team information along with other information. Suite users can use the system to order food and beverages.
Compaq will provide computers and monitors for the system. The system has been used at New York's Madison Square Garden, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego and
Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay.
Final phase begins for Boston Garden's demolition
February 17, 1998
BOSTON -- Boston Garden sits like a prisoner on death row, sentenced to obsolescence by the $160 million arena next door.
Hunkered beneath a cloud of dust raised by a massive highway tunnel project and eaten from the inside out by souvenir hunters and workers removing asbestos, the old barn is a dusty shell.
This weekend, the final phase of the demolition began. The cranes knocked the last breath out of a place that once roared with life, providing a stage for the Bruins' Bobby Orr, the champion Celtics and everything from rock 'n' roll to rodeos.
With less than a foot of space separating the old building from the new FleetCenter, the destruction will not be dramatic. The building will come down the way it went up -- piece by piece.
Those who lived their professional lives there, along with scores of die-hard fans, Garden employees and pigeons, have precious little time to bid farewell to the place they used to call home as it comes down below the adjacent elevated Southeast Expressway.
"It's ironic, really, that I would have to issue permits for the demolition," said Martin Pierce, the Boston fire commissioner and coach of the Matignon High School hockey team, which won five state titles in the Garden.
As a child living in the nearby Charlestown section of the city, Pierce used to sell papers at the Garden.
"You can take down the building, but you can't erase the memories," said former Bruins center Milt Schmidt, 79, whose No. 15 was retired and raised to the old rafters.
The memories include a few myths that might as well be torn down along with the building, which opened in 1928.
One is that the Garden was overrun with rats. But, either out of
sympathy for the place or because the critters stayed out of sight,
no one interviewed for this story would admit to ever seeing one.
The tallest Garden tales involved the Celtics and their cigar-smoking coach, Red Auerbach.
Opponents believed the parquet floor had strategically placed dead spots that gave the Celtics an advantage. Forget it, said John Havlicek.
"There were dead spots, but you never knew where they were going to be," the former Celtic said, "because it depended on how the gang put the floor down on a given night."
The floor, constructed from scraps by the East Boston Lumber Co. during a shortage of materials after World War II, was installed before each game, each section secured by brass screws and bolts. On nights when the crew was a little lax, a square or two might be loose.
But excuses outnumbered dead spots. "If you were dribbling, and you made a mistake with the ball, you would talk about the dead spots," Havlicek said.
The floor survives, having been moved into the FleetCenter in 1995.
So does Auerbach, today a vice chairman of the Celtics' board, who acknowledged that fear of dead spots worked against opponents by "playing with their minds."
All kinds of hoop gremlins sprang from the Garden's bowels. The visiting locker rooms were too warm, and the visitors' showers were cold -- a suspected plot concocted by the coach, Auerbach, who also was rumored to have been chomping on the same cigar for about 100 years.
"When the visitors had cold water, we had cold water, too," Havlicek said. "But the other teams always thought Red did it to them on purpose."
"Red didn't dispute any of it. He wanted them to think that he was doing it to them. It gave us an advantage."
Havlicek's -- and perhaps the Garden's -- greatest moment was when he deflected an inbounds pass by Hal Greer for a 110-109 playoff win over the 76ers in the final seconds of Game 7 of the 1965 NBA Eastern finals.
And that brought another riveting moment: the screaming, gravely voice of late Celtic broadcaster Johnny Most: "Havlicek stole the ball! Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over ..."
The highlight is rivaled only by the image of Bobby Orr flying through the air, lifted off his feet by elation, aided in flight by the stick of St. Louis defenseman Noel Picard, after scoring the winning goal in 1970 to give the Bruins their first Stanley Cup in 29 years.
There is no shortage of memories.
Larry Bird secured a big piece of Garden lore when he stole an inbounds pass from Isiah Thomas and fed Dennis Johnson for a layup and a win over the Detroit Pistons in the 1987 Eastern finals.
A local kid named Tony DeMarco strolled into the Garden from Boston's Italian North End neighborhood on April 1, 1955, and won the welterweight title from Johnny Saxton. After winning, he treated himself to a cab ride home.
During the blizzard of 1978, college hockey's Beanpot tournament went on as scheduled while the raging storm piled snow, rearranged the coastline and paralyzed the state. Players and fans camped at the arena overnight.
"Time marches on," said former Boston player and coach Tommy Heinsohn, who scored 37 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in a double-overtime Game 7 win over St. Louis for the Celtics' first NBA title, to cap his rookie season of 1956-57.
"The feel of the old Boston Garden was all the excitement that happened there. Since they built the new building, the teams haven't won that much. People don't remember the building as much as they remember what went on there.
"Having played my whole career there, of course I'm going to miss it."
Auerbach misses Boston Garden
ESPNET SportsZone May 17,1996
As a member of the Boston sports scene since 1950, there is perhaps no one better to speak about the current state of sports in that city than Arnold "Red" Auerbach.
As coach of the Boston Celtics, he won nine NBA championships and established the Celtics as one of the greatest franchise in pro sports history. He helped set a standard not only for the team but all Boston teams. Boston became one of the best and smartest sports towns. Now as president of the Celtics, the 78-year-old Auerbach has seen the Celtics -- and other Boston teams -- go through some hard times.
In a chat session with ESPNET SportsZone users on Friday, May 17, he talked about what it's going to take for the Celtics to get back on top, and a range of other topics including who he likes in the NBA Finals. Here is the transcript:
Red Auerbach: Hello. Any questions?
Rothey Alvin Manus: What cigar do you smoke? I'm a (Dominican) Montecristo #2 Man myself.
Red Auerbach: I smoke La Hoya de Monterey and also Macanudo.
RJ: Yeah. I have a question. What's your view on this whole Magic Johnson deal?
Red Auerbach: I think Johnson, who has retired three times, is finding it very difficult to play a whole season where he wants to play. He wants to go back to being a point guard; but when you're 25 pounds overweight, and 36 years of age, it's too hard a task, and I think he did the right thing in retiring.
Josh James: What position do you think (Bill) Russell would play in the NBA today? Could he deal with the size and bulk of the top centers today? Might he be a power forward?
Red Auerbach: Bill Russell would be the greatest in the game. And he's got to be in the middle, at center, because no one has ever duplicated his ability to block shots and nobody can anticipate and rebound the way Russell did. Nobody.
Jim Vaden: Hi Red. What are your thoughts on kids coming out of high school and college early to claim their eligilbility for the NBA, and is there a way to stop this madness?
"I miss the old Garden for its nostalgia...It will take a while to build up the fans' closeness."
Red Auerbach: The only way you could stop it is through the courts. You see, we were against it totally for many years. But the courts told us there was no way you can prevent anybody from making a living. You'd better take them or there will be huge lawsuits with triple damages. Until the law is changed, you've just got to live with it. However, I do think that a lot of kids are making a mistake. If they're going to be in the top 10, I can't really fight 'em. But if they're not sure they're in the top 10, they'd better go to college for at least two or three years.
Taurus da bull: The untimely loss of Len Bias and Reggie Lewis set Boston back tremenduosly. How long is it going to take to rebuild a team that will be a contender?
Red Auerbach: It's very difficult to answer because you don't like to finish in a lottery or finish way down. We finished in the lottery this year, but got the ninth pick. When a team like Orlando gets two picks two years in a row, you've got a team. With a salary cap it's very diffcult to make certain trades. But, give us a little while and we'll be in there. When Russell and Sam Jones retired and Cousy and Sharman retired, we rebuilt the team, and we just have to go out and get the job done all over again.
Magnus Thordarson: What do you think of these little meetings coaches hold before they join their players in the timeout huddles? Is this effective?
Red Auerbach: I think it's ridiculous. If a guy is the coach, he should make the decisions himself. If he's not smart enough and he needs help, then he has no business in the job.
Kelly Greene: How much money do the Celts have to spend on a free agent and who do you like of the ones available?
Red Auerbach: One of the questions depends on who we re-sign as to how much money we'll have, and the other one is I won't tell you. Because if we show interest in someone, someone else might go after him and beat us to him.
Magnus Thordarson: You once said in an interview that the success of the Boston Celtics was due to the organization's care for past and present players. Is this still the prescription for championship success?
Red Auerbach: I believe it is, although it is much more difficult today because players achieve free agency and they move on to the best offer. In other words, years ago we had more players start and finish their careers with the Celtics than the whole league combined. But today, you can't count on that because of free agency. However, we have only once had a coach that wasn't a former Celtic. For our TV and radio people we have Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn. We have (Cornbread) Maxwell doing our call on the radio. Our chief scout is Rick Weitzman. One of our coaches is Dennis Johnson. Larry Bird is also a consultant. He's on the payroll. We take care of our own people and we try to do the best we can for them.
Red Auerbach: I miss the old Garden for its nostalgia. The fact that the fans were in very close proximity to the action. You had a certain feeling about it. Today, it's -- everything changes. You have arenas like this all over the country. It will take a while to build up the fans' closeness.
Greg Kleinschmidt: Hey Red. How to you rate the Bulls accomplishment of their 72 game win season.
Red Auerbach: I don't think there's any way to judge whether they're the best team ever. It's like comparing who is a better figher -- Muhammad Ali or Jack Dempsey. You just can't. When we won 68 games, or whatever it was, we played a lot of teams five or six times. The talent was not diluted. Today, there are a lot of weak teams. You know with expansion teams, that gives them automatically around 20 wins. Years ago you didn't have that luxury. You had everybody coming at you. That's not taking anything away from the accomplishment of the Bulls. It's still a great accomplishment and I congratulate them for it. But you have to understand the teams are more diluted now than they were years ago.
Celtics: Mr. Auerbach, what type of player will you be looking for in the draft?
Red Auerbach: We need a power forward. However, if there's a guard out there who's a super player, you have to take the best player available. If the abilities are comparative, equal, then we go for the power forward.
Jon: Do you like the Fleet Center or do you miss the aura of the Garden?
"Fans like you forget one thing -- you never ask Larry. Larry doesn't want to coach."
Jim Vaden: What do you think the state of sports, as a whole, is today with team owners jumping at the first hint of extra dollars in another city. Whatever happened to fan loyalty? And would there ever be a time the Celtics would up-root and leave town?
Red Auerbach: Oh, no, I don't think that will happen in my lifetime, anyway. The Chicago Bulls, because of Michael Jordan, are right now the most famous sporting team in this country and throughout the world. But for many years, the Celtics were, and they were known all over the world. There's no way that's going to happen. As far as what the owners do, no matter what you say, it's a business. Some people, when they see a huge profit, they go sell it. You can't stop them, whether it's a baseball team or football team or whatever.
Carlos: How would the Bulls match up against the Celtics of the '60s?
Red Auerbach: Again, you can't answer that. But there's no way the Celtics of the '60s would not have or could have not been highly competitive with any team that's ever been assembled. When you have Russell, (Bob) Cousy, (Bill) Sharman, the Jones boys (K.C. and Sam), (John) Havlicek and people like that, you're going to be very, very competitive.
Mitch from Maine: Red, it must be tough for you not to be in the playoffs. When will it happen? We need Larry (Bird) to coach.
Red Auerbach: You hear that type of thing all the time. You're just a fan who has the interests of the team at heart. But fans like you forget one thing -- you never ask Larry. Larry doesn't want to coach. It's just like trades. Why don't you trade so-and-so for so-and-so. But you forget it takes two people to trade.
Navot Volk: I'm from Israel and I want to know your opinion about Doron Sheffer from Connecticut.
Red Auerbach: Sheffer is a very, very smart player. He's big. He can play the NBA in my opinion. I think he'll go later in the first round only because there's some question of his foot speed. The whole thing taken in context, he's an NBA player.
Tim: Hi Red, Is there a team out there that can knock off the Bulls? If so, what team?
Red Auerbach: I don't think so. I think with the Bulls having a home-court advantage, they're going to beat Orlando. Then, they're going to play probably Seattle, and I think they're too smart in Seattle. But that's just my opinion. Seattle's defense won't affect them as much as it has affected other teams. If the Sonics put two men on Michael Jordan you're going to find (Toni) Kukoc can score, (Scottie) Pippen could score, (Steve) Kerr could score, and they'll come up with 20 points apiece if they double-team Michael.
I've got to go now. Thanks for the questions.