Boston is home to some great American landmarks. One that often goes unnoticed celebrated a momentous occasion Friday when Northeastern's Matthews Arena celebrated its 100th birthday.
The arena — the world's oldest multi-purpose athletic building — is so synonymous with the sports scene in Beantown that its official title is often dropped, being referred to simply as Boston Arena.
"I'm very fortunate that my career has taken me through a different number of leagues and buildings, but I have to tell you that when I’m in this building, and it's packed like it was most nights last year, and it will be this year, it's a very unique experience," Northeastern men's hockey coach Greg Cronin said. "The crowd energy, the noise, the intensity goes right into your blood. It's something that stirs your soul on the bench, and it stirs the souls of the fans as well."
In addition to hosting Huskies hockey, basketball and scores of intramural sports, Matthews has seen many stars and celebrities walk through the arena's doors. Over the years, everyone from Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey to Marvin Gaye and the Supremes to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy have been on or above the ice at Matthews — the world's oldest artificial ice sheet.
The playing surface has given rise to the Boston Bruins, Olympics, Whalers, Tigers and Cubs, as well as hosting the Celtics' first-ever game in 1946. The Beanpot — and all of the Huskies' rivals — got its start in the arena on what used to be the smallest rink in Boston. Expansion in 1995, the second of three major renovations for the arena, now means it is the city's largest.
"We're celebrating 100 years in respect to Matthews Arena, but we are also celebrating the future and looking forward to what we can do here," Northeastern athletics director Peter Roby said.
Matthews Arena has withstood two major fires since 1910 and still stands today. New locker rooms, seats and a press box mean the century-old edifice isn't going anywhere soon.
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