If you want to visit a grand and elaborate barn, this is the place to go. Boardwalk Hall is not just a hockey rink, but a multipurpose arena that has hosted countless shows, sporting events and other special occasions including hockey games, Miss America Pageants and even the first indoor flight of a helicopter. With all of these memories, we believe that Boardwalk Hall deserves a spot in our Barn Blog series.
Name: Boardwalk Hall (a.k.a. Convention Hall)
Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey
Year Built: 1929
It was in the June 9, 1910 edition of the Atlantic City Evening Union where Councilman Victor Freisinger stated, “We must have a convention hall here . . . the resort needs some such institution in order to keep abreast of the growing demands of the national bodies which meet in the annual convention, and will urge the importance of the scheme for a convention hall as long as there is any possibility of its becoming a reality.” Sixteen years later, after buying land at Rendezvous Park , hiring Lockwood, Greene and Co. to be the architects and receiving approval, Boardwalk Hall was ready to be built. Three years after that, the new convention hall was opened on May 31st, 1929.
The entire project cost $15 million, was built upon seven acres on concrete, and a 137-foot high roof without pillar supports. According to the buildings website, the stage at the time was proclaimed the largest in the world at 110 feet wide, 85 feet deep and 165 feet between the wings. Also very notable is the buildings Pipe organ which is the largest in the world with 33,000 pipes. It’s composed of two consoles, one with seven keyboards and a portable one with five. The pipes were also organized into 8 different chambers to create a “surround sound” effect.
Boardwalk Hall has seen quite a bit of hockey throughout its years. It has been host to two professional teams: the Atlantic City Seagulls from 1930 to 1952 and the ECHL Boardwalk Bullies from 2001 to 2005. It has also hosted some NHL games on occasion for an Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers game (the very first hockey game played there), two Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers exhibition games, and several AHL and ECHL games.
The Seagulls inaugural season was on February 7, 1930 when they faced off against the Pennsylvania Athletic club. Later, on March 1, 1933, the Seagulls set up a game with the New York Rangers. According to the building’s website, Boardwalkhall.com, there were 22,157 fans in attendance of this game making it the largest crowd ever to see a hockey game. The price for admission was a food, clothing or fuel donation for the American Red Cross. In the end the Rangers beat the Seagulls 6-2, as they were professional and the Seagulls were only armatures. The Seagulls played their final game later on March 15th, 1952 against the New York Rovers.
The ECHL Boardwalk Bullies has their fair share of hockey memories while playing at Boardwalk Hall, as well. In their 2002-2003 season they won the Kelly Cup, beating the Columbia Inferno 4-1. As the team only lasted 5 years in the ECHL many of the players moved on to other teams or retired. Head Coach Mike Haviland went on to win the Kelly Cup with the Trenton Titans again in 2005, won the Stanley Cup as an assistant for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and now the head coach of the Hershey Bears in the AHL.
Playing in this historic stadium is special enough for the professionals who have played there, but for the College students who were lucky enough to make it to the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Men’s Championships in 2011, 2012, and 2013; it was a memory that will last a lifetime.
On January 29th and 30th of 2012 Boardwalk Hall hosted the AHL All-Star Classic. This was the first time the Classic was held at a location outside of the AHL team’s cities. The skills competition took place on Sunday. Magnus Nygren won the hardest shot competition with a 104.6 mph slapshot and tied Jason Jaffray and Ryan Strome. Mike Hoffman was deemed as the fasted skater at 13.990 seconds to complete one lap. Dustin Tokarski won best goaltender by blocking 16 out of 24 shots. On Monday the Western Conference beat the Eastern conference with a score of 8-7.
“Operation Hat Trick” was a game held on November 24, 2012 at Boardwalk Hall to help raise money for the victims of hurricane Sandy. Before 10, 792 fans, Brad Richards‘ of the New York Rangers team beat Scott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers team. The final score was 10-6. As fans cheered “we want hockey,” the game helped lead to the two month lockout. The game drew national media attention and showed many NHL players eager to take the ice again. Overall, the game raised $500,000 to benefit the New Jersey and New York victims of the hurricane.
As a multipurpose complex, Boardwalk Hall has seen a variety of events other than hockey. It has hosted numerous Miss America pageants, the first surgery televised in color, the first indoor nighttime college football game, the first indoor flight by helicopter, President Lyndon Johnson’s nomination convention, and other various concerts, sporting events and conventions. This extravagant barn’s concrete walls hold a lot of history and memories and continue to be a great place to visit no matter what the event is.