SBJ/Nov. 4-10, 2013/Facilities

Idea was considered in other arena designs

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The bridge seat concept that makes such a impact at Madison Square Garden is not new.

Ten years ago, sports architects Tom Tingle and George Heinlein proposed bridge-style seating for new arena projects in Charlotte and Sacramento. For various reasons, including arena funding issues in California, those ideas never gained traction.

SBJ Podcast:
Facilities reporter Don Muret describes the renovated Madison Square Garden.

Air Canada Centre, designed by Brisbin Brook Beynon, the Canadian firm headed by Murray Beynon, MSG’s architect for the renovation, considered adding bridge seats five years ago in a retrofit, almost a decade after the Toronto arena opened in 1999.

“It is a great concept but a very expensive and complicated construction,” said Bob Hunter, chief facilities and live entertainment officer for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the arena’s owner. “We abandoned the idea because of that.”

The Golden State Warriors are developing a new arena — and even showcase the Golden Gate Bridge in their logo — but are not considering bridge seats as part of their project, team President Rick Welts said. The Kings, meanwhile, are still determining the right mix of premium seats in their latest effort to build a new arena. To this point, nothing is final for their $448 million project, said Jon Niemuth, AECOM’s principal-in-charge of the project.

AECOM officials have discussed the MSG renovation with a few NBA clients, Niemuth said, and those teams are quick to point out they don’t believe the economics tied to the project in general would work in Sacramento or, for example, in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City.

“There are many interesting features of MSG that because of the New York marketplace really do not have application in other places,” Niemuth said. “They don’t have the volume [of corporate business] or pricing to support it.”

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