The Centrum, or officially Centrum in Worcester as it was then known, opened in September 1982 after years of construction delays, with a capacity of roughly 12,000. The opening event was a Frank Sinatra concert. The arena was expanded to 14,800 seats in 1989 with the addition of the 300-level balconies. The convention center addition was completed along with a renovation of arena infrastructure in 1997. This upgrade resulted in the facility's name change to Worcester's Centrum Centre. The venue received further updates with the DCU naming rights purchase, including new signage both inside and outside the facility, and a new center-hung video scoreboard for the arena bowl.
Previously, the arena was managed by Rich Kreswick, who afterward spent a brief time at the FleetCenter (Boston), and in the mid-1990s, the general manager position transferred to Sandy Dunn, who is one of few women to manage an arena venue, and the DCU Center is one of the most stable of SMG's assets.
The arena is home to the Worcester Railers HC of the ECHL who will begin play in 2017. The arena was formerly home to the Worcester Sharks American Hockey League (AHL) team, owned and operated by its NHL affiliate San Jose Sharks, which moved its farm team to the west coast in 2015. Prior to this, the venue was home to the Worcester IceCats, also of the AHL.
The New England Surge of the Continental Indoor Football League also called the Center home for two seasons, but after the 2008 season the team ceased all operations. They were the second indoor football team to do so, after the Massachusetts Marauders of the AFL. Boston area teams use the arena as an occasional home venue for pre-season games. Worcester has been host to the Boston Celtics every few years.
The College of the Holy Cross uses the facility as an alternate location for anticipated larger attendance home games for men's basketball and men's ice hockey.
The arena also hosted the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic on January 29, 2009. The PlanetUSA All stars defeated Team Canada, 14–11, in the highest-scoring AHL All Star game in history.
During the 1980s, the arena became a stop for touring musical acts. The old Boston Garden had poor acoustics and lacked air conditioning, prompting promoters to schedule Boston area shows at the arena. This practice continues today as the arena is seen as an alternative to the larger TD Garden. The arena also plays host to a variety of entertainment events, including Professional Bull Riding, Stars on Ice, Monster Trucks and more.
On February 11, 1983, Marvelous Marvin Hagler retained his WBC, WBA and The Ring Middleweight titles against English boxer Tony Sibson at the arena. It was Hagler's 60th professional fight and his 56th win overall. The fight was the only time Hagler fought at the arena and was the last of 36 he fought in the state of Massachusetts.
From August 13 to August 24, 1987, in an effort to thank their local fans for years of support and allow wide availability of tickets, Boston played an unprecedented nine-show run on their Third Stage tour. Starting with a three-night booking, as each show neared selling out another night was added. This successful, well-reviewed tour stop prompted a good-natured ad parody on rock radio station WBCN, "Now appearing at the Centrum, Boston on Ice!", a reference to themed ice shows.
The arena played host to what some fans consider to be the greatest two-night stand in the history of The Dave Matthews Band, in December 1998. Fresh off their May release of Before These Crowded Streets, they played some of the most inspired and diverse concerts in their history. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones joined DMB for these shows opening both nights and even sitting in on much of sets for both nights.
The venue has hosted 16 concerts of the band Phish. On December 31, 1993, they played their first concert at the Centrum, complete with a stage decorated like an aquarium (featured for the 1993 New Years run). Footage from this show was featured in the band's only official music video, "Down with Disease", whose jam debuted that night. On November 29, 1997, Phish played their longest song in band history, a 58-minute version of "Runaway Jim". The concert performed nearly a year later, on November 27, 1998, was later released as a live album, entitled Live Phish Volume 6. On December 27–28, 2010, they returned for a pair of concerts, the group's 11th and 12th appearances at the venue and its first public performances there in over seven years, performing one of the most well received renditions of "Harry Hood" since reuniting in 2009.
The arena played host to The Up in Smoke Tour on July 20–21, 2000. The show featured many famous rappers and hip hop artists, including Ice Cube, Eminem, Proof, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Nate Dogg, Kurupt, D12, MC Ren, Westside Connection, Mel-Man, Tha Eastsidaz, Doggy's Angels, Devin The Dude, Warren G, TQ, Truth Hurts, Xzibit and The D.O.C. The July 20 show was filmed and later released as a live DVD.
The arena played host to The Tattoo the Earth Tour on October 5–7, 2001, and October 12–14, 2002. The show featured performances by Slipknot, Slayer, Sevendust, Sepultura, Hed PE, Mudvayne, downset., Hatebreed, Full Devil Jacket, Famous, Amen, U.P.O., Nothingface, PPM, Cold, Relative Ash, Systematic, Six Feet Under, Candiria, Lamb of God, God Forbid, Darkest Hour, Unearth, All That Remains, Dropkick Murphys, Sick of It All, Tiger Army, Converge, The Unseen, Reach the Sky, Stretch Arm Strong, Kill Your Idols and Nashville Pussy. It also featured 42 tattoo artists from Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Malaysia, Manitoba, Spain, Switzerland and the US.
On April 27, 2003, WWE Backlash came to the DCU Center.
On July 12, 2005, it was the host of the July 14 taping of SmackDown!
Boston natives Aerosmith have performed at the DCU Center 13 times over the course of their career, including a few New Year's Eve shows.
The arena features annual appearances of the top family shows including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice, Harlem Globetrotters and The Wiggles, among others.
The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) has hosted a Built Ford Tough Series bull riding event at the arena every year from the event's inception in 1998. The Built Ford Tough Series was known as the Bud Light Cup until the 2002 season.
On December 28, 1998, Mick Foley, performing under the name Mankind, won his first WWE Championship in a television taping of Monday Night Raw at the Worcester Centrum Centre, defeating The Rock.
On November 2, 2009, it was the host of WWE Raw for the first time in nine years.
On January 29–30, 2011, the Massachusetts International 28th Auto Show was held at the arena.
For the first time since its inception, TNA Wrestling debuted at the DCU Center on January 20, 2012.
On January 14, 2014, it was the host of the January 17 taping of SmackDown!
On November 18, 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump held a rally at the DCU Center for a campaign stop. Secret Service agents screened attendees before the event. A crowd of about 12,000 was in attendance.
It was the host of WWE SmackDown when it went live on July 19, 2016, an episode featuring WWE's second ever brand extension draft.
The facility expanded in 1997 with the opening of an attached convention center that features panoramic views of downtown Worcester. The complex added 50,000 square feet (4,600 m2) of exhibit space, 11 meeting rooms, a 12,144-square-foot (1,128.2 m2) ballroom (the largest in Central Massachusetts) and a kitchen. The facility's 100,000-plus square feet of exhibit space is filled by consumer shows, trade shows, conventions, conferences, and other public and private functions year-round. An additional headquarters hotel for the facility, the Hilton Garden, opened in October 2006, doubling the number of rooms previously available in the facility's other headquarters hotel, the former Crowne Plaza that closed in 2009.
It was announced on June 3, 2009, that the DCU Center would undergo a series of major renovations, starting in June 2009. There were to be three or four phases to the renovations, and to avoid delays and conflict, work was to be done only in the summer months, so it would not interfere with the Worcester Sharks AHL season which begins in October. Work on the arena was expected to last three to four summers, thus making a completion date of sometime during the summer of 2011 or 2012.
Some of the major improvements mentioned for the summer 2009 phase are a new electrical system, new ice chillers, and a completely new ice floor all of which are original to the arena which opened in 1982. Other improvements to the arena during phase 1 will include a new dasher board system and a new seamless glass system, which are often found in new arenas.
Other improvements slated for future phases include, but are not limited to, an improved concourse, improved concessions, new and improved restrooms and the addition of suites and club seats. There are several other things that will be worked on, but have not been finalized yet by the City of Worcester and SMG.
During the summer of 2012, phase 2 of the renovations will take place. These include a new glass wall on the Foster Street side of the building; major improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; upgrades to restrooms and concessions; and a new dehumidification system.