So, first time heading down to a C’s home game at TD Banknorth Garden? A live game at the Garden is something you should never miss, especially if you’re a Celtics fan.
I had my first experience there on the record breaker performance by Ray Allen, 10th Feb 2011. Needless to say, his career three-pointer #2,561 was a great moment in the record books. I’m glad I was there with my brother as proud witnesses to that historical moment, something I’ll never forget.
And of course, we also watched the subsequent implosion in the second half that led to a loss. Disappointing but the atmosphere was great to say the least; there sure are lots of wild and enthusiastic fans out there!
I also attended two games in the 2012/13 season, a home game against the Charlotte Bobcats with media credentials (read about my press pass experience) and another home game against the Miami Heat with my wife (read my fan report), where Jeff Green scored an unbelieveable 43 points, but one in which we ultimately lost in the closing minutes.
Here are some tips for my fellow Celtics fans, assorted bits and pieces that I wanted to know before my trip but was not readily available online. My original tips have been compiled together with comments from Jeff Dearman (known also as the dancing usher) on my original post, much thanks to Jeff for providing extensive information and for showing us around during the 2013 Heat game.
- You can walk or take the subway to North Station which takes you directly to the Garden itself. Driving’s an option too, just need to watch the parking.
- Train: Get a CharlieCard from MBTA staff, using the card saves you money versus a CharlieTicket.
- Walk: What I did was explore (aka walk) the Freedom Trail, and backtrack to the Garden after that. Explore Boston, and save on train fare, win-win! Not encouraged in mid-winter though, my brother and I nearly froze to bits doing the Freedom Trail in low 20s weather. Other suggested tourist activities are the Boston Duck tour, trolley tours, visiting the USS Constitution museum, catching an Omni show at the Museum of Science, or just visiting the public gardens.
- Drive and park: Parking somewhere further and taking the train down is recommended by Jeff. Suggested locations are:
- Sullivan Square: All day parking available, $4 for side lot on the left, or $6 for the main lot. Get in early, parking fills up quickly. Take the train to TD Garden, it’s two stops away from North Station via Forest Hills Orange line.
- Winchester: Most of the street parking is free after 6pm and you have 2 hours parking and free after 6pm, so you could come say 4pm, get dinner at the Black Horse tavern or go into town early before the game and not have to worry about a parking ticket. You can grab a bite to eat at the Black Horse Tavern, China Sky Chinese or a sub at Andrea’s Pizza before the game, or even take it on the train with you.
Get to the Garden and back on the Lowell line train (commuter rail), which takes 20 minutes.
- Other towns: Suggested you check commuter rail timetable, to avoid getting stranded post-game. Trains only run every two hours, and sometimes they end as early as 2230hrs. Trains leave promptly on the dot, so remember to exit the Garden early.
Tip: trains have free Wi-Fi.
- No bags: You’re not allowed to haul your own backpacks/bags into the game, period. If you do have bags with you, bring it over to Sullivan’s Tap. They’ll hold the bag for you with a charge of $10. If you have shopping bags, chances are they will get you to go to the Bruins shop and get a clear bag for your stuff.
- No smoking: Just like how it reads. No smoking areas either.
- Photography: Horrors of horrors, you forgot your camera? No worries, the fan photographer has you covered. He’ll snap some, give you a card with a gallery number and you head online after the game to check yourself out. Prices are not cheap (think $15-$20 range), but you get some pictures of yourself at least.
- Before you head in: There’s a couple of things to eat at the ground floor of TD Garden, nothing too fancy e.g. MacDonald’s. Head out around the area and have a look! Check out North End or have dinner by the Garden at Fours Bar, Beer Works, North Star Grill, or Half Time pizza. Or check Yelp on North End for recommended spots. Finish your food before going in, outside food and drinks are not allowed. That includes anything bought at the ground floor of TD Garden before you enter: that’s outside food too.
- In-game: Inside the garden you can find a plethora of food choices from gelato stands, hot dogs, pretzels to fried dough, or even a Lobstah Roll!
- The Bruins Pro shop at the ground level of the Garden holds a variety of Celtics fan gear. They might not have your size (especially if you’re an S or M) so be prepared.
- There are a couple more stalls after you head up the escalator and gain admission. There’s a Fan Zone shop (upstairs as well) which stocks more stuff, and a few merchandise places at the premium club area as well. The Bruins Pro shop frequently run out of sizes, you might have a better shot at getting something upstairs.
- Tip: avoid the post-game crowd and buy whatever you want before the game, you’re allowed to carry the stuff into the game with the clear bags they provide.
- There’s a silent auction corner which allows you to bid for vintage Celtics stuff, but you need to be willing to splurge to place bids.
- Champs Sports near Downtown Crossing station is another good place to look for Celtics merchandise, they have some exclusive products and plenty of snapbacks.
- Regular tickets: You don’t get in until an hour before game time for normal seats, so don’t bother with the queue. Go have dinner, gulp a few beers then head back to the entrance at the right time. Right time = 1900hrs if it’s a 2000hrs game.
- Premium ticket holders: Get in via separate entrances. You get access to a private dining area/bar, private bathrooms, a sideline view of the court, waitresses and waiters that come to your seat, easy access via premium elevators and escalators to the seating location, the ability to come in an hour and a half (90 min) early, and access to the sports museum which has plenty of great memorials to Boston sports. The seats are pretty much the same level as the loge, just a bit more pricey. Several other sections are available e.g. the Sportsdeck, the Board room, the GardenView suites, the Patron Bar, and the boxes.
- Latecomers: You avoid the massive rush at the ticket entrances and get right in, so even though you missed a couple minutes of the first quarter you got in quick! If there are people in your seats, just ask a usher for help. Sometimes there isn’t an usher at the balcony area because they are down at the turnstiles. Just go a couple sections over if you need help, there will typically be someone. A usher usually comes up from the tickets after their break.
- Raffle draw: There is a 50-50 raffle with folks selling them before the game. They announce the winner later in the game, so make sure you don’t leave. You have to be present to win. You win half the money and the other half goes to charity, pick up the winnings at Guest Relations by section 4.
- In-game freebies: The Celtics dancers and crew will be hurling freebies during timeouts but if you’re way up there in seating, chances are minimal.
- Getting on the Jumbotron: Dance like crazy during the time outs. Wear some crazy costumes. Who knows, you might end up on ESPN or TNT if its nationally televised or get a comment or two out of Tommy or the radio crew. You might even become a regular fan favorite like the Chicken Man, the green-haired guy, Jack Black and Aztec Gino. You never know who the Jumbotron camera crew will capture next. Also: if you get nominated for fan of the game –the crowd will vote for the favorite– the favorite wins a $100 Legal Seafoods card and an autographed basketball (usually).
- Celebrity watching: Keep a look out for local favorite superstars, sports athletes from various sports like the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots. Bill Belichick is a regular at the Garden, so is Tom Brady and his wife, Vince Wilfork, and several Patriots, as well as the Kraft family, Donnie and Mark Wahlberg and many other stars. You never know who will be at a Celtics game.
- Player autographs: An usher we chatted with before the game said we could try hanging around at the carpark until the players leave the Garden. Some guys have been known to get autographs that way, it all depends on how hardcore you are. Or you could try getting a Budweiser Legends Club member to get you in pre-game.
- Jeff’s autograph recommendations: Come a couple hours earlier in the afternoon and stand by the lot where the old Garden used to be in front of the TD Garden. There is also a cool statue of Bobby Orr on the west side where the taxi stand is across from Half Time pizza if you want to look at it. You can mill around the Pro shop before it gets too crowded, and there’s a cool plaque of Red Auerbach in the lobby of North station on the east side by the bar.
Try standing by the security entrance to the parking lot a couple hours before the players arrive between 1500hrs and 1730hrs (generally speaking). If you have any questions, ask the security guy at the guard shack. They can tell you when/where to wait for autographs. Some players sign, some don’t.
If you have premium tickets you can go in an hour earlier through special entrances on either end. Premium tickets are more expensive.
My suggestion would be get premium tickets. wait by the lot entrance pre-game. You could also try coming in early and going up to level 3 by the Legends bar on the west side, some of the visiting teams go into the locker room that way.
Home team tunnel is at section 19-20 loge, by the media area. It would be best to try to see if they sign at the lot entrances pre and post game. The Celtics rarely sign but you can try. It’s pretty tough to get autographs with NBA players, at least with the Celtics. Rondo is very hard to get. Might be easier with Pierce, KG or some of the others.
The visiting team tunnel is in section 4-5 of the loge. The visiting team players sign more often. I’d suggest trying for the visiting team autographs, less people stand down there – (by the 4-5 loge tunnel) than the home team one. and sometimes the visiting players sign more. Someone got Jeremy Lin to sign four jerseys – even a Golden State one.
- Assistance in-game: Guest relations office is at Loge 4 if you have any questions, concerns. There is a first aid room at Loge 15 (the only first aid room in the arena). There are EMTs who are on all levels however, and police officers if you have any concerns. You can also talk to any staff member, usher or security guard for help.
- Early exit: TD Garden is relatively congestion-free with escalators and staircases readily accessible so leaving early is not really a must.
- Most importantly: Let yourself go, enjoy the game! Dance if you want to, scream and cheer as hard as you can. After all, everyone around you is doing the same!
Hope these tips help a fellow #AussieCeltic in need!
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