Bruins, Celtics back playing in a Garden

Originally Published: March 3, 2005
Associated Press

BOSTON -- The FleetCenter has a new name: TD Banknorth Garden.

The bank reached a 20-year deal with arena owner Delaware North Cos. to put its name on the home of the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins, the companies announced Thursday.

Financial terms were not immediately disclosed, but published reports citing anonymous sources familiar with the deal said TD Banknorth would pay between $5 million and $6 million per year.

The Maine-based bank also will invest more than $5 million in New England neighborhoods through Delaware North and the Boston Bruins Foundation, and committed $8 million for improvements to the arena over the life of the deal, officials said. Delaware North also owns the NHL's Bruins.

"We couldn't be happier to find a partner that embraces the tradition of Boston sports history the way Banknorth does," arena president Richard Krezwick said.

The new name, which officially takes effect on July 1, resurrects at least part of the name of the FleetCenter's legendary predecessor, the Boston Garden, which hosted 16 Celtics NBA titles and five Bruins Stanley Cups.

"As we think of Meccas of American sport, the Garden is certainly one of them," said William Ryan, TD Banknorth's president and chief executive, who said his goal was "to bring the Garden feeling back to all of the people who remember it so well.

"I never liked 'center,'" he said.

The name TD Banknorth was created just last month, when shareholders in Banknorth Group Inc. approved the $4 billion deal that gave Canada's Toronto Dominion Bank a controlling stake in the Maine-based bank.

The deal ends the whimsical auction of daily naming rights on eBay that resulted in the building being named -- officially, if not in actual usage -- such things as the KurtCenter, the JoeyColinAbbyCenter and the Nocturnal Nannies Arena for 24-hour periods over the past month.

One New York lawyer's bid to name the arena for New York Yankees star Derek Jeter was derailed after his friend chipped in and they agreed to name it the "Jimmy Fund Center," after the Boston-based cancer charity.

The last of those auctions, for March 13 rights, ended Thursday. The auction raised more than $150,000 for charity over three weeks.

The arena, which opened in 1995 as a replacement to the dear but decrepit Garden, was originally to be named the Shawmut Center, for a local bank. But Shawmut was acquired by Fleet Bank before the building opened, resulting in the name FleetCenter.

Fleet later merged with BankBoston to become FleetBoston, which was acquired by Bank of America last year.

Bank of America and Delaware North nearly completed a deal that would have put the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank's name on the building above Boston's North Station. The bank had test-marketed prospective arena names and measured for new signs, but Bank of America spokesman Joe Goode said the deal collapsed when the company changed its marketing priorities.

The bank and Delaware North also were unable to agree to financial terms, Goode said.

Instead, Bank of America bought out the remaining six years of the 15-year, $30 million deal for a reported $3 million. That allowed the building to sell daily naming rights.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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