Guests might see some “Pardon our appearance” signs at the TD Garden over the next several months, but the ongoing $70 million renovations at the arena look like they’ll make for a recharged fan experience.
The renovations were announced earlier this year and detailed today by Garden officials at a tour for members of the media. While much of the work being done will indeed leave a visual mark—a new pro shop, new food setups, and a redesigned concourse among them—the biggest change might not be visible.
Delaware North Companies, which owns and operates the Garden, is installing 400 antennas to facilitate a high-density Wi-Fi network for fans. The system will be powered by Cisco.
Garden President Amy Latimer said slow Internet connections in the Garden have been a common complaint of patrons, who say processes like sending emails and posting to social media sites can sometimes be interrupted in the crowded venue.
Gillette Stadium currently offers its own Wi-Fi network, while Fenway Park hopes to offer a public-facing Wi-Fi network by the start of the 2015 season, according to Red Sox Vice President of IT Brian Shield. (Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry also owns Boston.com and The Boston Globe.)
The antennas at the Garden will be installed throughout the arena, including in ceilings. The Garden is also exploring installing antennas within the arena’s hockey boards.
The renovations will bring new looks to the second, fourth, and seventh floors. The second floor will host a new pro shop. Previously, the pro shop had been located on the first floor. The new shop will be about 6,000 square feet, which Latimer said will about double its size. The second floor location will also allow fans who are already at an event to visit the shop during it. The previous shop’s location required fans to leave their ticketed event in order to visit.
Just for kicks, here’s the Bruins bear in a hard hat in what will eventually become the pro shop.
The fourth and seventh floor concourses will receive new flooring, and LED screens will be installed on the walls, which can show photos uploaded by fans to social media through the new wireless network. Other digital signs will show sponsor messages. Images of sports stars from the past will also adorn the walls.
The Garden also plans to remodel its food stands to have a more modern feel, with digital signs in order to more easily switch up menu items. There will also be more portable food and beverage stations. Latimer said the portable stations will allow for different types of food for different events. One rendering showed booths for Asian food, Mexican food, and macaroni and cheese.
And the Garden plans to introduce more locally-flavored food offerings. The examples provided included lobster rolls, roast beef sandwiches, fried oysters, and cannolis. Latimer also said more local beers are likely to be on tap.
The Garden’s Legend Club, an upscale restaurant that hosts business functions and serves as an exclusive offering for Bruins and Celtics season ticket holders, is also getting a makeover, which will increase its space by about 35 percent.
The renovations will last for about two years. The fourth floor concourse and the Legends Club makeover will be done by the start of the upcoming Bruins and Celtics seasons, the pro shop will be complete by the end of 2014, and the seventh floor renovation is expected for next summer. Events will run in the meantime, including concerts this summer.
“We feel we can accomplish the construction with minimal impact on our event schedule,” Delaware North Principal Charles Jacobs said.
Some of the construction areas will be without flooring during some events, a Garden spokesperson told Boston.com.
Jacobs said the goal is to make the Garden an industry leader in terms of stadium and arena accommodations. He told Boston.com that the renovations aren’t being undertaken to compete with the at-home experience fans may enjoy, with cheaper beer and HD TV. “People really do try and enjoy the experience and camaraderie of coming to an event,” he said.