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AND THEY ALL SAY, 'THIS IS IT?'
Leigh Montville
May 19, 1986
A 58-year-old art deco hulk, the Boston Garden is a sports emporium at once frowsy and hallowed
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May 19, 1986

And They All Say, 'this Is It?'

A 58-year-old art deco hulk, the Boston Garden is a sports emporium at once frowsy and hallowed

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The original price of the floor was $10,000, but it should have been much higher. DiNatale remembers that his father was given 25% of the Celtics in payment because Celtics owner Brown was having tough financial times. Brown later found the money, and DiNatale's father returned the Celtic stock.

"I guess he made a mistake, huh?" DiNatale says. "I'd probably be sitting right next to Red now, watching the games. The favor was repaid, though, in 1948. There was a big fire that burned down my father's lumberyard. We had contracts to make four or five floors, and Walter Brown let us do the work inside the Garden. I remember working there as a kid, building those floors. Northwestern. Texas A & M. I can't remember the other ones. Those floors were made right inside the Boston Garden."

The Garden floor has been refinished three or four times during its 40-year life, which would be the limit with most wood floors, but because it is twice as thick as the normal floor it will be able to handle twice as many refinishings. Twice as many? That would make the floor 80 years old before it is unusable. The floor may be as durable as the building. Maybe even more durable.

"We have a unique situation with the floor," Auerbach says. "It's the thing people recognize most. If we went to a new arena, we would pack it up and bring it with us. We'd still have our history."

A new arena?

A new arena. The idea is a perpetual threat, a constant cloud shaped in the form of a question mark, a Ghost of Christmas Future that sat down inside the Boston Garden as long as 20 years ago and will not leave. A new arena?

The proposals arrive with every election year and fairly often in between elections. The scale models that have been built could fill the parquet floor, end to end. The blueprints and glossy brochures could be stacked in a pile that would reach the championship flags.

A new arena?

"I think a new arena would be a mistake," Mooney says. "The answer is in renovation. This building has some problems, especially in vertical transportation. It needs escalators. It needs air conditioning. The heat...when this building was built, heat was cheap. There was one switch for the entire building. On or off. We've done a lot of work here. This is not the grimy building it was 10 and 15 years ago. There is more we can do.

"You would just lose so much history if this place were destroyed. What's lacking can be addressed. The things that are here can't be replaced. That's my feeling."

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