Boston: All year round sports town
According to US sports media website Bleacher Report, Boston is the no.1 city in America to be a sports fan. Each of its teams in the four major North American professional leagues (MBL, NBA, NFL and NHL) has won a title in the last decade and their die-hard fans have a reputation for fanatical allegiance. Best of all, as a neutral sports-loving visitor you can enjoy all the excitement and atmosphere of a game without the occasional heartbreak that comes with it. We take a look at the scene…
Boston Red Sox
Few sports teams have put their fans through the mill like the Boston Red Sox. Even those who know next to nothing about baseball have probably heard about the Curse of the Bambino, said to have started when Boston sold their star player Babe Ruth to rivals the New York Yankees in 1919. The previous year the team had won the World Series, to add to those won in 1912, 1915 and 1916. But what followed was one of the longest championship dry spells in American sporting history – and it would be 86 years before they could reclaim the title again.
That victory in 2004 – an incredible comeback detailed in our feature on the history of Fenway Park (link to Fenway Park feature here) – was more than a decade ago now, and since then the Red Sox have claimed two more World Series titles, in 2007 and 2013. In a city infatuated with baseball, the chance to attend a home game should be grabbed by the horns. The season typically begins on the first Sunday in April, ends on the first Sunday in October, and is followed by the post-season playoffs and World Series. Tickets generally go on sale the preceding December. Tours of Fenway Park – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – are available all year round.
The Boston Celtics basketball team have a proud and storied past, winning 17 World Championship titles since forming in 1946, more than any other NBA team. They ended a 22 year dry spell with an epic comeback in 2008, beating arch rivals the Los Angeles Lakers to become champions for the first time since 1986. The Lakers have faced the Celtics a record 12 times in the finals, dominating the league in the 1960s and 1980s. Their most recent face-off was in 2010, which went to the Lakers in a seven game win, and between them the two teams have won almost half of the 67 Championships in NBA history.
In existence since 1924, the Boston Bruins are the third-oldest professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League. The team is also one of the ‘Original Six’; a group of six teams that made up the NHL between 1942-1967, after World War II and continued financial pressures following the Great Depression left the Canadian and American player base depleted.
The league has grown to 30 teams during the modern era, playing 82 games during the regular season between October and April, followed by the Stanley Cup playoffs. Despite being competitive and regularly making the playoffs, the Bruins have won the Stanley Cup only once in recent years – in 2011 – though this has done nothing to dent demand for tickets to games at home arena TD Garden which sell for $20 up to almost $450.
New England Patriots
Originally the Boston Patriots, the New England Patriots changed their name in 1971 after relocating to Foxborough, Massachusetts, about a 45 minute drive south of Boston. They are one of the most successful franchises in National Football League history, tying with the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers as the teams with the most amount of Super Bowl appearances at eight apiece. In 2000, the Pats were joined by head coach Bill Belichick and over the following years he led them to a new record for most wins in a decade (121) and guided them to three Super Bowl wins in four years – only the second team in NFL history to achieve this.
Home games at Gillette Stadium are packed to the rafters and generally sell out well in advance, but it’s always worth checking the website for news on individual tickets.
New England Revolution
Also based in Foxborough, and owned by Robert Kraft who also owns the New England Patriots, the professional soccer club New England Revolution has competed in Major League Soccer (MLS) since its first season in 1996. Founded as part of the bid to host the 1994 World Cup, the MLS struggled to attract crowds and become profitable in its first few years, but since then the league has really taken off and expanded to 20 teams. Now, average attendance at MLS soccer games exceeds that of the NBA and NHL, with most teams playing or – like the Revs – planning to play in soccer-specific stadiums in the near future.
Until then, the team continue to share Gillette Stadium with the New England Patriots, but this should in theory make it easier to get tickets to matches. Unlike in Europe, the soccer season in the US runs from March to October, followed by playoffs and the MLS Cup Final. A trophy known as the Supporter’s Shield is awarded to the team who has scored the most regular season points.