SBD/Issue 163/Facilities & Venues

MSG Renovation Will Force Summer Shutdowns Starting In '11

Renovation Project To Modernize Madison
Square Garden Expected To Cost $775-850M

A renovation project designed to modernize 42-year-old Madison Square Garden "will move into high gear next year with the first of three summer shutdowns," and "each year, construction will start with the end of the Knicks' season or the Rangers', whichever comes later," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. Turner Construction is renovating the arena and "needs about 20 consecutive weeks from the end of play." The renovation will cost $775-850M, "much higher than the $500[M] estimate made by Garden officials when they first unveiled plans" in April '08. MSG President & CEO Hank Ratner said that the lower figure was "based on a design concept that had not been fully fleshed out." The current estimate is "based on elaborate drawings of every element of the construction plan." MSG spent $60M to "start the renovation in areas not visible to the public through the end of 2009," and Ratner "declined to say how much has been spent since or how much the Garden, which hosts about 300 events a year, is giving up in revenue for events that cannot be booked during the closures."

CLOSED FOR BUSINESS: Sandomir notes the WNBA Liberty "will have to play home games elsewhere beginning in 2011," and a "possibility" is Prudential Center in Newark. After the NBA Draft on June 24, the Theater at MSG "will be closed to support the work that is needed to support the construction of the upper floors," though the Theater itself "does not need renovation and is expected to reopen in the fall." In October '11, MSG "plans to reopen with its lower bowl seats refurbished and the 20 event-level suites ... ready to be occupied at rents of about" $1M each. Meanwhile, about 1,500 seats in the upper bowl "will be covered at the start of the 2011-12 season," but Ratner said that they "should be finished early in the season." Most of those seats are "not committed to season-ticket holders, but those who have seats will be temporarily relocated." Opening in October '12 will be a "partly finished upper-level concourse, a party deck and the Super Club, an area the size of 10 suites." The Delta Club, which "will serve patrons of the elite event-level suites, will also open." In October '13, the "final phase -- the open-air, two-level Seventh Avenue lobby -- will open with large projection screens and a television studio." Ratner: "This isn't a renovation. This is a new building within the familiar exterior of the Garden" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/6).

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