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Dunkin' Donuts Center

Dunkin' Donuts Center

The Dunkin' Donuts Center (originally Providence Civic Center) is an indoor arena located in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. It was built in 1972, as a home court for the emerging Providence College men's basketball program, due to the high demand for tickets to their games in Alumni Hall, as well as for a home arena for the then-Providence Reds, who played in the nearly 50-year-old Rhode Island Auditorium. Current tenants include the Providence Bruins, of the AHL and the Providence College men's basketball team.

[[LINK|lang_en|Dunkin%27_Donuts|Dunkin' Donuts]] Center
"The Dunk"
Dunkin' Donuts Center
Former namesProvidence Civic Center (1972–2001)
Location101 Sabin Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
Coordinates41°49′25″N 71°25′6″W [24]
Public transitProvidence Station
OwnerRhode Island Convention Center Authority (2005–present)
City of Providence (1972–2005)
CapacityConcerts: 11,000
Basketball: 14,300
Ice hockey: 14,000
Broke groundJanuary 1971
OpenedNovember 3, 1972
Construction costUS$13 million
US$80 million (renovation)
ArchitectEllerbe Associates
General contractorDimeo Construction Company[1]
Providence Bruins (AHL) (1992–present)
Providence Friars (NCAA) (1972–present)
Providence/Rhode Island Reds (AHL) (1972–1977)
New England Tea Men (NASL) (1979–1980)
New England Steamrollers (AFL) (1988)


The idea for a Civic Center in Providence had been proposed as early as 1958, on the site of what later became the Providence Place Mall. The project was proposed as a joint federal-state-city project, which would create jobs and bring economic benefits. However, the plan failed due to the inability to secure federal funds.[2]

The plan was revived again as a statewide bond issue in the 1968 general election; voters outside of Providence soundly defeated the referendum.[2] Finally, mayor Joseph A. Doorley Jr. pushed through a citywide special referendum in 1969, which passed.[2] When this amount proved to be inadequate, Doorley pushed through another referendum in 1971, which also passed.[2] The project became so closely associated with Mayor Doorley that it was referred to in the press as "Doorley's Dream."[3][4]


The Providence Civic Center was constructed in 1972 on the site of an old jewelry factory.[4] The opening ceremony was held November 3, 1972, with a Providence Reds hockey game.[2][4] President Richard Nixon, campaigning in the area, was invited to the attend the opening, but he declined.[4] In its first year, the center hosted concerts by Pink Floyd and Frank Sinatra, as well as hockey games and political rallies, and was considered a success.[4]

In October 1974, Civic Center director Harold Copeland was convicted of soliciting a $1,000 bribe from a concert promoter.[4] The conviction, occurring a month before election day, thrust prosecutor Vincent Cianci into the Mayor's office and ended Doorley's political career.[4]

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Civic Center fell into decline; it required city bailouts and was seen as a financial problem.[2] The Rhode Island Convention Center and adjacent Omni Providence Hotel (then named the "Westin") were completed next door to the Civic Center in 1993 in an attempt to lure visitors to the city.[2]

In 2001, as a means of increasing financing,[2] the arena was named the Dunkin' Donuts Center as part of a naming-rights deal with Dunkin' Donuts.[5] In December 2005, the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority purchased the building from the city of Providence and spent $80 million on an extensive renovation. Major elements of the construction included a significantly expanded lobby and concourse, an enclosed pedestrian bridge from the Rhode Island Convention Center, a new center-hung LED video display board, a new restaurant, 20 luxury suites, four new bathrooms, and all-new seats with cupholders in the arena bowl. Behind-the-scenes improvements included a new HVAC system, ice chiller, and a first-of-its-kind fire suppression system. These renovations were completed in October 2008.[6]

Notable performances and events


The Grateful Dead recorded half of their live album, entitled Dick's Picks Volume 12, here on June 26, 1974.

Rock Band Queen also performed several times 1977,1978 and 1980.

Former Beatle George Harrison held a concert here on December 11, 1974, during his "Dark Horse Tour" (so called because it occurred near the launch of Harrison's Dark Horse Records). Performers included Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Jim Keltner, and Billy Preston. At one point in the show, a girl tried to climb onstage, but was stopped and assaulted by police; Harrison stopped mid-song and shouted "Krishna! Krishna!".

Some of the songs on the Eric Clapton album E. C. Was Here were recorded live at the Civic Center, on June 25, 1975.

The arena played host to The Rolling Thunder Revue Tour on November 4, 1975, headed by Bob Dylan.

The Who played here on December 13, 1975.

Elvis Presley performed there three times – once each in 1974, 1976, and 1977.

Frank Sinatra performed 10 times at the then-Providence Civic Center. His first was to a sold-out crowd including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for his Variety Club International Tour on April 15, 1974 and the last on October 3, 1992. During many of Sinatra's performances, Rhode Island State Police would attend, searching for organized crime members in the audience. During a 1979 appearance in Providence, Mayor Buddy Cianci named Sinatra an honorary fire chief, complete with a helmet bearing the name "F. SINATRA" with nickname "Ol' Blue Eyes" beneath.

David Bowie's concert on May 5, 1978 was one of three recorded for his live album Stage.

The Bee Gees performed two sold-out concerts here on August 28–29, 1979 as part of their Spirits Having Flown Tour.

The Kinks recorded much of their live album and video, One for the Road at the Civic Center September 23, 1979.

In 1979, Providence mayor Buddy Cianci cancelled a concert at the Civic Center by the rock band The Who.[7] Cianci cancelled the performance after hearing about a Who concert in Cincinnati earlier that month where 11 fans had been trampled to death.[7] 33 years later, the band returned to Providence and announced they would honor any tickets from the 1979 show.[7] Ten fans, now middle-aged, traded in 14 tickets to see the performance.[7]

In 1979 Kiss scheduled a show on their Dynasty Tour for August 1, 1979, and a second show was added for July 31, 1979 when the first date sold out. Both were threatened with cancellation by Cianci in light of The Who situation and a stabbing at a Bad Company concert ten days prior to the first date. After controversy, which included rock fans picketing the Cianci's home, the shows were allowed and Cianci attended the first night's performance to observe.[8]

The Jacksons performed here on August 16th, 1981 during their Triumph Tour.

The Civic Center also received publicity in 1983 for a planned Kiss concert which never occurred. Rhode Island promoter Frank J. Russo scheduled the band on their Creatures of the Night Tour/10th Anniversary Tour for shows at both the Worcester Centrum on January 22, 1983 and the following night at the Civic Center, but canceled the Civic Center show when it sold only 2,000 tickets. Russo publicly offered to trade tickets to the Centrum show for Civic Center show tickets in lieu of refunds, with a free ride to and from Worcester. Hundreds of fans participated and were picked up by several chartered buses on Sabin Street in front of the Civic Center.[9] A week later the situation was featured in a two-part WPRI Channel 12 news story by reporter Brian Rooney,[10] citing it as a prime example of how the newly built Centrum was cutting deeply into the Civic Center's business by providing aggressive competition for events.

Phish have performed at the venue several times, and three of their concerts there have been released on compact disc: Live Phish Volume 20 features the band's concert of December 29, 1994, and Live Phish 04.04.98 and Live Phish 04.05.98 feature the band's performances on April 4 and 5, 1998, which were part of their 1998 "Island Tour".


Providence College men's basketball

The Providence Friars men's basketball team has been the only major tenant of the arena since its inception, having played almost all of its home basketball games at the arena since 1972. The Providence men's basketball team and their fans have made the Dunk one of the most intimidating environments in recent years for NCAA basketball. On rare occasions, the Providence women's basketball team has played "home" games in the arena, most notably for games against URI or the University of Connecticut, where demand for tickets would be enough to warrant an arena larger than the 1,854-seat Alumni Hall.

Other college sports

2019 NCAA Hockey East Regional at the Dunk, Cornell University vs Providence College

2019 NCAA Hockey East Regional at the Dunk, Cornell University vs Providence College

The arena has been the site of many collegiate tournaments, including the inaugural 1980 Big East Conference men's basketball tournament; the Division I men's basketball ECAC New England Region Tournament, organized by the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), in 1978 and 1979;[11][12][13][14] NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament first- and second-round games in 1976, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1989, 1996, 2010, and 2016; the 1978 and 1985 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament East Region finals; the inaugural 1985 Hockey East Tournament, as well as the second tournament a year later in 1986 before the tourney made Boston a permanent home; and the 1978, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1995 and 2000 NCAA Frozen Four ice hockey championships. The University of Rhode Island (URI) men's basketball team also played some home basketball games at the Providence Civic Center beginning in 1973, although this practice stopped with the opening of the Ryan Center in 2002.

In 2010, the arena hosted first and second-round games of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament for the first time since 1996.[15]

Professional sports

The Providence Reds (known locally as the Rhode Island Reds) hockey team of the American Hockey League (AHL) played at the Providence Civic Center from 1972 to 1977. The New England Tea Men of the North American Soccer League (NASL) played their indoor soccer matches there from 1979–1980 before moving south to Jacksonville, Florida at the start of the 1980–81 indoor season.[16][17][18] The Providence Bruins of the AHL began play at the arena in 1992. The New England Steamrollers of the Arena Football League also called the arena home for their single season of existence in 1988.

A number of other professional sporting events, including Harlem Globetrotters basketball games and regular season and preseason games for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) have been held at the arena.

DateOpponentResultHomeGame TypeAttendance
December 30, 1972Philadelphia 76ers107-117Boston CelticsRS9,065
October 9, 2013New York Knicks103-102Boston CelticsPS10,404


During a live performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on May 4, 2014, eight female performers were sent to the hospital after a high wire snapped while they were attempting a routine where they hang by their hair high above the floor. The performers fell from between 25 and 40 feet to the ground, but none suffered life-threatening injuries.[19] On May 1, 2016, Ringling Bros. ended 145 years of tradition when they staged their last-ever performance with live elephants at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.[20] Eleven elephants headed to Florida for retirement after the show.[20] A year after that, the final show for the Red Unit of Ringling Bros. was on May 7, 2017.

Other events

The arena has long been a regular stop on WWE tours. It was the site of WWF King of the Ring tournaments four times: from 1987 to 1991, before the event became a pay-per-view, and once after in 1997. In 1994, it hosted the Royal Rumble. On April 25, 1999, the arena was home to the first WWF Backlash pay-per-view event, and the 2009 edition of the event (the last until 2016) was held there ten years to the day.[21] In December 2005 the arena hosted WWE Armageddon. The January 13, 2014 edition of WWE Raw was filmed at the arena. WWE Smackdown filmed two shows at the arena in 2015, on April 21 and August 25. The SmackDown portion of the 2018 WWE Superstar Shake-Up was held at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, while the Raw portion was held at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. On October 22, 2018, Roman Reigns revealed his leukemia diagnosis during a Raw show held at the arena.

In November 2015, the Rhode Island Comic Con expanded into the arena from the adjacent Rhode Island Convention Center, where it had been held since it began in 2012. It has been held in both buildings ever since.

The arena was used by Hasbro to host its first-ever HasCon in September 2017.


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