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Preview: Madison Square Garden renovations

Catwalk on Madison Square Garden{jathumbnail off}

When folks argue that Madison Square Garden is the most famous arena in the world, they’re not lying: everything in Manhattan is seemingly larger than life, and that goes for the venerable home of the NHL‘s Rangers and the NBA‘s Knicks. So when MSG announces details of their $770-million makeover, it’s news. Here’s a look at what’s in store.

MSG released some more details about the three-year renovation of the Garden, slated to be completed by the fall of 2013. Work has already begun: the Box Office lobby is a construction zone, Gate 54 is closed, and Club Terrace escalators are being replaced.

What’s most exciting about the renovations is something that won’t be unveiled until the 2013 Rangers/Knicks season, alas: the Chase Bridges, catwalks spanning the length of the arena open to all ticketholders on a first-come, first-served basis. The distinctive roof of the arena will remain the same, but the catwalks (shown above) will be a major addition, and the first of their kind (as far as we can tell) in a major arena.

Madison Square Garden renovations

The renovations will begin on the ground level and work their way up. The first round of renovations, slated to be done by next summer, will address the lower bowl, the Madison concourse (shown above) and the suite level, with a new club (sponsored by Delta) in the works.

Madison Square Garden renovation

The second round of renovations, due to be completed sometime in the winter of 2011 and spring 2012, will cover the upper bowl, the Garden Concourse and the Madison Club.

The final round of renovations, due to be completed by Fall 2013, will probably be the most dramatic; besides the aforementioned bridges, this round will cover the exterior renovation via the Chase Square (shown below), the addition of a fan deck and additional suites work.

Madison Square Garden renovations

Madison Square Garden has always been part of the pulse of New York City: besides hosting the New York Knicks (NBA), New York Rangers (NHL) and New York Liberty (WNBA), the Garden is also known as the concert, college-basketball and boxing hub of New York.

It also has been somewhat of a closed facility in terms of interaction with the greater New York community, lacking windows and access. The renovation will address this: by pushing out the concourses and adding windows to the place, fans will certainly feel like they’re part of the New York experience during almost any event. The renovations will also upgrade the fan experience in other ways: besides the addition of more comfortable seating, the renovation will add a new scoreboard and LED displays, as well as a new sound system.

Some background: this is the third Madison Square Garden. The first (shown above), designed by renowned architect and bon vivant Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White, was an early sporting and event showcase, opening in 1890. The second was a larger facility opening in 1925 where boxing and pro sports ruled. The current Madison Square Garden opened in 1968.

Renderings courtesy Madison Square Garden; original Madison Square Garden photo courtesy of Library of Congress (

This article first appeared in the Arena Digest newsletter. Subscribers see features before they are posted to the site. Are you a subscriber? You can sign up here.

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