This article was originally written in October, 2015.
TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins, has had an interesting history since opening its doors twenty years ago. Playing host to the Bruins, Celtics, the Beanpot, Hockey East championships, figure skating, concerts, professional wrestling, and even box lacrosse has given plenty of people a great memory at TD Garden. In fact, over 30 million people have stepped foot in the arena over the last twenty years.
However, the origin of TD Garden, at least its namesake, has a bizarre story to it. In fact, the arena’s naming history as a whole is, well, more interesting than it should be. So sit back, relax, and discover how TD Garden got its name, – or names, – all thirty-three of them.
TD Garden. The Fleet Center. Maybe even the Shawmut Center, if you’re a real expert. TD Garden, as it is known today, has gone through plenty of name changes. However, you were probably pretty surprised when you read the words “thirty-three” a few lines up. That wasn’t a typo. To date, TD Garden has had thirty-three official names. Thirty-three.
Origins of TD Garden
The arena, which was originally built as The Shawmut Center, was given its name after the naming rights were sold to a Boston-area bank, Shawmut Bank. Shawmut had beaten out its rival, Fleet Bank, for naming rights, and had just secured the name as construction was under way. However, just before construction was completed, Shawmut Bank and Fleet Bank negotiated a secretive merging agreement – so secret that their marketing teams that had battled for the naming rights did not even know about it – and the two banks merged together. When the dust cleared, the newly formed company was bidding against itself.
To make matters worse, every seat in the brand new arena had been stamped with a Shawmut logo, a company that no longer existed. As a result, each and every seat needed to be replaced, before anybody even had the chance to sit in them. On top of that, the arena’s entire color scheme had to be altered. Finally, a ready-to-be-used FleetCenter emerged. What a start.
When FleetBoston Financial merged with Bank of America in 2004, it appeared the Fleet Center was going to be changing names again. In January of 2005, Delaware North and the bank reached an agreement that released the bank from the final six years of its naming rights agreement. Thus, Delaware North was free to sell.
In early March of 2005, TD Banknorth announced that it had purchased the naming rights of the arena, priced at $6 million per year. However, the six month period before the arena adopted its new name has quite the story.
It wasn’t until July of 2005 that the arena took on its new name: TD Garden. However, from February to March, the arena was being advertised as “YourGarden”, as in – you could buy the naming rights for a day on eBay. We aren’t kidding.
In the time before working out a deal with TD Banknorth, Delaware North wanted to have a little fun, despite its lack of a long-term corporate sponsor. In order to do so, the company took to eBay to sell one-day naming rights to the arena. They made thirty sales from February 10th to March 13th. the eBay auctions held by Delaware North earned a net-proceeds of $150,633.22, which was donated to charities in the area. $40,000 dollars worth of My Grandma’s Coffee Cakes were donated to local food banks.
During the “YourGarden” period, only two names were reportedly rejected. One of those has a phenomenal story:
A Yankees fan and lawyer from New York City named Kerry Konrad won naming rights for March 1st off of a $2,300 bid. In honor of the Yankee’s shortstop, Konrad proposed his ideal name: “Derek Jeter Center”. The Harvard graduate did this all in good fun, as part of a long-lasting rivalry between a Red Sox fan who he was buddies with (named Jerry Rappaport), and himself. However, there was no way that Boston’s arena was going to be named after a man in pinstripes, so the name was rejected.
The two reached an agreement, and Rappaport ended up raising the bid to $8,600, and earned the naming rights. That $8,600, of course, represented the 86 years during which the Red Sox suffered from the infamous “Curse of the Bambino.” Rappaport named the arena “New Boston Garden, Home of The Jimmy Fund Champions.”
After a merger with Commerce Bancorp in April of 2008, TD Banknorth became TD Bank, forming the grounds of it’s most recent name change.
TD Garden Today
Over the last twenty years, TD Garden has undergone some strange name-changes. When the Bruins hit the ice to take on the Jets on Thursday, October 8th, just one day removed from the twenty year anniversary of the team’s first game at the Garden (October 7th, 1995), be sure to take a second to marvel in the glorious naming history of “the Gahden.”
Then, indulge yourselves. Hockey season is back.