SBD/Issue 38/Facilities & Venues

MSG Shutdown Not Expected To Affect More Than One Knicks Game

MSG, Knicks Officials Have Contacted Nearby
Prudential Center In Case Problem Continues

MSG is "shut down until further notice" because of asbestos concerns, but Friday's Wizards-Knicks game "will go on," according to sources cited by Marc Berman of the N.Y. POST. The Knicks contacted Prudential Center "as a fallback" for Friday's game after postponing last night's game against the Magic at MSG, but it "does not appear they will need it." The MSG shutdown occurred after "debris and dust fell from the ceiling late Monday night into the arena while a maintenance crew cleaned 'asbestos-related materials' from an attic." Sources indicated that the "cleanup was part" of MSG's planned renovations. A N.Y. city environmental agency official said that the "debris that fell in the arena was found not to contain asbestos." It was the "first cancellation of a Knicks game at the Garden in 14 years," and Berman notes the incident "raises questions on whether the Knicks' ongoing Garden 'transformation' is safe during the season." There has been "speculation about the Knicks using alternate sites during the renovation, such as the Prudential Center, Nassau Coliseum or the empty Meadowlands." But Knicks sources said that "nothing of that nature has been discussed." The NBA as of last night "had no timetable on when it will release a new date for the game" (N.Y. POST, 11/3). An NBA official said that MSG "firmly believes it will resolve the Garden problem 'very soon,' and that last night’s Knicks-Orlando cancelled game will be the only event that requires rescheduling." The official said, "They believe they can get this cleaned up by Wednesday, and they won’t have to move any games -- they'll just have to reschedule the Magic game. But if it gets on past Thursday, the Knicks said they’ll get back to the people in Newark" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/3).

ARENA IS SAFE: On Long Island, Baumbach & Hahn note tests conducted at MSG "later in the day proved the arena to be safe, but the Magic already had headed home." N.Y. Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Farrell Sklerov said, "Basically, it's a false alarm." The NBA was "in full support of the decision" to postpone last night's game, and a league source indicated that the Knicks are "not likely to face any fines for having an unplayable venue." The source, however, indicated that the Knicks "may have to compensate the Magic for a return trip to New York for the rescheduled game" (NEWSDAY, 11/3). In N.Y., Howard Beck notes DEP inspectors "visited the arena and concluded that no asbestos had been released when materials in the Garden attic were knocked loose during overnight maintenance." Sklerov said that "additional sampling conducted by independent air monitors confirmed that finding." Neither the city nor MSG "would describe the nature of the debris or say how much had fallen." Beck notes there are "logistical limits to how many games the Knicks can postpone if the Garden remains closed," and the NBA "would probably push them to move their games to another site" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/3). In N.Y., Isola & Schapiro report the "cleaning of the attic above the ceiling is unrelated to the estimated $850 million Garden renovation that will be completed in three years" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/3). It was "unclear yesterday whether the mini-crisis would affect other Garden events in the next few days, including a Rangers game Sunday night and concerts next week by Roger Waters and the Dave Matthews Band" (N.Y. POST, 11/3).

WHAT ABOUT US? MSG hosted a Blackhawks-Rangers game Monday night, and Chicago Tribune reporter Chris Kuc asked, "What are they saying -- hockey players, hockey fans and hockey writers can handle it, but you get to the NBA and it's, 'No, we're not going out there?'" Kuc: "That place is a mess. ... There was a lot of debris lying around, so I'm not surprised that they found asbestos" ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 11/2).

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