by Habeeba Husain / @HabeebaHusain
The lights really do shine brightest on the orange and blue painted floorboards. In a few hours, a bunch of kicks on the feet of the Knicks and Bobcats players will run and squeak across that court to wrap up the preseason. With the world-famous ceiling and brand new technologically advanced GardenVision scoreboard floating above, Chase Bridges circling the stands, and a return of the beloved Blue Seats from the first row to the last, Madison Square Garden’s three-year, $1 billion renovation is finally complete.
It was a celebration on Thursday, as New York stars and Garden legends like Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Willis Reed, John Starks and Larry Johnson walked the Blue Carpet to kick off the festivities.
“This is the most magnificent [renovation], but I think it embellishes what basketball is now. It’s a big business, it’s entertainment, and that’s what the Garden has done to attract the fans,” said Frazier, donning his two Championship rings he won with the 1970 and 1973 Knicks. “You gotta give them something special, and of course this is the mecca for everything basketball, so that’s why this is the World’s Most Famous Arena.”
Something special is exactly what MSG has in store for its four million guests that visit each year. Let’s take a tour, shall we?
Arrive at the new Chase Square entrance on 7th Ave, complete with a merchandise store to buy fan gear and memorabilia, climate controlled (!) space, LED ceilings, and more. Cool, let’s keep walking.
Game doesn’t start for a few, so it only makes sense to wander and witness all that’s changed. Fans can see historic MSG moments for every day in the year with the new Garden 366 exhibit. To add more nostalgia to the picture, get a taste of the Defining Moments exhibit, recognizing 20 of the greatest events that occurred in the very same building where the ’13-14 Knicks hope to create even more.
Still some time before tip-off? Wonderful. Grab some grub from some of the best New York City chefs. Fans have new food and beverage options available, right inside MSG—no need to walk the cold city streets at night and risk missing the ref’s toss up.
With the Garden history learned and food/drink in hand, it’s time to find the seat. Whether a fan will watch from the Chase Bridges, the suites, the lounge, court-side, or the highest seat in the house, there’s something new to enjoy. Take a seat.
“Let’s get it started in here.” Fergie’s voice from her Black-Eyed Peas’ days just echoed throughout the space. The basketball is in the air. It’s time.
Want more details? Here’s a breakdown from MSG’s press release of what it built up in the three phases of its renovation:
Phase I Transformation highlights (completed in time for the ’11-12 seasons):
• New Lower Bowl seating with larger, more comfortable seats
• An expanded SAP Madison Concourse
• 20 new Nespresso Event Level Suites
• New, exclusive Delta Sky360 Club and 1879 Club presented by J.P. Morgan
• New Knicks and Rangers locker rooms and star dressing rooms
Phase II Transformation highlights (completed in time for the 2012-13 seasons):
• New Upper Bowl seating with significantly enhanced sightlines
• An expanded Garden Concourse
• A new Lexus Madison Suite Level with 58 new Madison Suites
• A new all-inclusive Madison Club presented by Foxwoods
• The return of the beloved Blue Seats
• A transformed Chase Square 7th Avenue entrance that is nearly double in size, featuring a brand new merchandise store, Garden of Dreams area, box office and the addition of a broadcast location, as well as two 600 square foot ceiling video screens featuring ground-breaking content
• Two spectacular new Chase Bridges with one-of-a-kind views of the action
• An EIGHTEEN/76 Balcony on the Bridge level, offering a selection of new food and beverage options and unique lounge seating with direct views into the Arena bowl
• A state-of-the-art GardenVision center-hung multimedia display
• A Signature Suite Level featuring 18 completely transformed suites with “center stage” views for concerts
• The restoration of the iconic Garden ceiling