Boston: Hub of the Sports World

From baseball to hockey, the marathon to a regatta, get insider tips on how to catch a piece of the sporting action, both pro and college, on your next visit to Beantown.

Not only home to beans, beer and smart people, Boston also has top-level sports. Three out of the four major professional teams (sorry, Bruins) have won a championship (or two, or three) within the past few years. Add major Boston college sports, a marathon and a regatta, and you’ll understand that Boston is a hub of the sports universe. Here’s a breakdown of teams and events to catch during your Boston vacation, as well as where to see games, even if you can’t get tickets.

Professional Sports

Bostonians live for the Red Sox (baseball), New England Patriots (football), Celtics (basketball) and Bruins (hockey), and recently fans have been living the high life.

Boston Basketball

Not only do both the Bruins and the Boston Celtics play in the TD Banknorth Garden, but the Celtics also are the reigning National Basketball Association (NBA) Champions and are strong contenders to repeat this year. Tickets are still available for the Celtic’s few remaining home games, but in case you miss them, fret not. There are plenty of bars and pubs in the immediate vicinity (and across the city) that will be showing the game. Try The Place (near Faneuil Hall) or The Fours (near the Garden). The Garden is easily accessible by car and public transit: the Green and Orange T lines and the commuter rail run there.  

Ticket info: Celtics tickets sell for $10 to $191.50. Check for more info.

Boston Football

The New England Patriots don’t actually play in Boston—they play at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (as does the New England Revolution professional soccer team), which feels closer to Providence, R.I. Driving is the main option for getting there, but as mentioned earlier, there are plenty of bars in Boston, and if the Pats are playing, they’ll likely be on every TV in all the nearby bars.  

Ticket info: Tickets for the Patriots’ 2009 season are not yet on sale, but in 2008, tickets ranged between $65 and $169. Check for updates.

Boston Baseball

The Boston Red Sox, of course, play in historic Fenway Park just off Kenmore Square. It’s undergone some recent renovations, but catching a game there you still feel as if you’re watching a game in 1912, when the park originally opened. It certainly is a shrine to baseball, but if you go, a word to the wise: Leave your Yankee cap at home. Trust me. If you can’t get tickets, of if you just want to pop by the area to soak up the vibe of Red Sox Nation, a place to catch the game (and maybe a home-run ball) is the Cask N Flagon, located across Lansdowne Street from the park.

Ticket info: Boston Red Sox tickets run between $12 to $325. Check for more ticket information.

Boston Hockey

The Bruins haven’t enjoyed the spate of championships that the Celts, Pats and Sox have, but they’ve got one of the best records in hockey this season and are a team to watch heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ticket info: Bruins tickets go for $16.50 to $199.50. Check for more info.

College Sports

Boston is the New England capital of hockey (sorry Orono, Maine and Manchester, N.H.), and could give any hockey town in the country (and maybe even Canada) a run for its money.

College Hockey

As with the Bruins, there is top-notch college hockey to be seen in Boston: Boston College (BC) is the reigning NCAA champion and Boston University (BU) is the current No. 1 team in the nation. The toughest ticket to get every year is the Beanpot Tournament, which is an annual clash in the first two weeks of February of the Hub’s top hockey schools—BC, BU, Northeastern and Harvard—at the TD Banknorth Garden. BU topped Northeastern last month at the 57th annual event. You missed it this year, so what? Those teams could meet again at the upcoming Hockey East tournament later in the month at the Garden.

Ticket info: Tickets cost $17 to $39. Check for more ticket information.

College Basketball and Football 

For other college sports, look no further than Boston College—a powerhouse on the gridiron and hardwood (by the way, I am an alumnus). BC recently left the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, which means a parade of nationally-ranked basketball teams (think Duke, North Carolina) come through the Silvio O. Conte Forum on BC’s campus in Chestnut Hill.

During football season, the big event is the Holy War, when the BC Eagles welcome Notre Dame to Alumni Stadium (adjacent to Conte Forum) every other year to battle it out for Catholic football supremacy. BC has won the last six tilts—take that Irish!—and the next game is out in South Bend, so look to catch this heated rivalry back in Boston in 2010 (maybe for the last time!). BC is easily accessed by Green line T.

Ticket info: Check for tickets and schedule info for BC sports, and for BU sports.

Other Events

The Boston Marathon and the Head of the Charles are two events where the city stops whatever it’s doing, cracks a beer (or two or four) and enjoys.  

Boston Marathon

The 113th annual Boston Marathon takes place this year on April 20, which is also Patriots Day, an official holiday where just about everything in the city shuts down. The Marathon starts in Hopkinton, Mass., and ends in Copley Square. Any place along the route can be a great place to watch the race, as the finish line area does get jammed. Bonus: Standing along the route is free! Some viewing spots of note are out by Wellesley College, where the students are famous for their energetic cheering, and at Heartbreak Hill by Boston College, where many a race has been won or lost.  

Ticket Info: Check out for more details.

Head of the Charles Regatta

The Head of the Charles regatta is one of the major rowing regattas in the nation and the world. It takes place Oct. 17 to 18 and features the top college and club teams battling it out, one by one, on the Charles River. Prime viewing is from the parks alongside the river on the Cambridge and Boston sides, as well as from the several bridges that span the river. Bonus: Standing along the river is free!

Ticket Info: Check for more information.

Destinations: Boston

Themes: Urban Endeavors

Activities: Arts and Entertainment, Baseball