One potential drawback of living in South County is the fact that there aren't any professional sports teams here. If you're a sports fan, this can be a big deal because you'll have to travel if you aspire to witness an event in person.
If you want to catch a game, Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, is 47 miles from North Kingstown. On a good day, the drive takes less than an hour, but public transportation isn't really an option, and you'll run into significant traffic near the stadium on game day.
It's also 73 miles to TD Garden in Boston, where you can catch a Bruins' or Celtics' game, and about a three-hour drive if you want to head to New York City to watch an event.
In short, it's a pain to get to these professional sporting events from South County because of the distance you'll have to travel, and you'll also have to worry about ticket prices and accommodation.
There is another option, however, as the American Hockey League's Providence Bruins play out of the Dunkin' Donuts Center in the city's downtown area. The AHL is perhaps the best minor-professional hockey league in the world, similar to AAA baseball, and the Bruins' home games are only about 25 minutes from North Kingstown, making them easily accessible.
You can also take public transportation from North Kingstown to the rink in about 40 minutes, eliminating traffic and parking from the equation.
Here is what you should know about the Providence Bruins, Rhode Island's only professional sports franchise.
History of the Team
Professional hockey has a long history in Providence, as the Rhode Island Reds played in the Canadian-American Hockey League between 1926 and 1936 before moving to the American hockey league in 1936.
In 1972, the Reds became the minor league affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers. The gist is that players under contract with the Rangers who were not quite good enough to play in the National Hockey League would spend time in Providence with the Reds until they were ready.
That agreement continued until 1977 when the Reds were sold and moved to Binghamton, New York. AHL hockey wouldn't return to Providence until 1992, which is when the Bruins formed.
The Providence Bruins are a minor-league affiliate of the Boston Bruins, similar to how the Reds had an agreement with the Rangers. Many players, including Stanley Cup winners Tim Thomas, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, and Adam McQuaid, have played for the team and gone on to have long NHL careers.
The Bruins won the Calder Cup, which is the AHL championship, in 1999, and have earned five division championships and three regular-season titles, as well.
The Dunkin' Donuts Center
As we mentioned before, the Bruins play their home games at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, which is just off the I-95 in downtown Providence. The arena is just a couple of blocks from Providence Station, so you can take the train from Wickford Junction and get there very quickly.
The Dunkin' Donuts Center opened in 1972 and holds 14,000 fans for ice hockey. The rink underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2008, which saw the addition of new suites and seats, upgraded concessions, and a state-of-the-art scoreboard. The concourse and lobby were also expanded at this time.
Ticket prices for the Providence Bruins depend on the location of your seats. Generally, you can sit in upper-level seats for about $20 per game, while seats closer to the ice are $40.
Flex-packs and special discounted games are available throughout the season, as well, providing you with multiple chances to catch the action and save money in the process.
And, since the team is so close to South County, you might even consider season's tickets. With this option, you'll receive tickets to all 38 home games throughout the season, in addition to extra benefits like flex tickets to select games and discounted tickets to other events at the arena, for as little as $535.
If you're into hockey and want to support a local team, the Bruins provide an inexpensive alternative to the teams in Boston.
Professional Sports in Rhode Island
When it comes to professional sports in Rhode Island, the Providence Bruins are the only option and, luckily, their games are relatively affordable when compared to the Patriots or Celtics, which could cost you hundreds of dollars per game.
The Providence Bruins also allow you to catch tomorrow's NHL stars, as future big leaguers like Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Lauzon, and Jack Studnicka are currently on the roster, and more are added each and every season.
You don't have to travel to Massachusetts or New York to catch some professional sports action because the Providence Bruins play right in our backyard.