Latest Phase Of Madison Square Garden Renovation Remains On Schedule
MSG's $980M Phase II renovation, which will debut with the NHL Rangers’ home opener on Nov. 1 and the Knicks’ home opener the following night, remains on schedule. MSG opened its doors Tuesday afternoon to a dozen reporters for a peak at construction. MSG President & CEO Hank Ratner said the process was “in the exciting phase now” and boasted that MSG will be “the nicest, greatest, most wonderful arena that anyone is going to find anywhere in the world.” Phase II includes 58 new “Madison” level suites located in the middle tier of the arena. These high-end suites will have their own concourse. As a result of the suite construction, the entire upper bowl is being re-done and, according to Ratner, will be 10 feet closer to the Rangers’ rink and Knicks’ court and 17 degrees steeper. This will be a major improvement on the MSG’s oft-criticized sightlines in some areas. The concourses in the upper level will also be much wider. “Double, in some cases triple,” said Ratner, standing at the mark of the previous wall for effect. Rangers fans will be able to celebrate the return of the MSG's “blue seats” -- approximately 1,000 seats at the top of the arena that will be the least expensive. In a widely-derided decision, the “blue seats” changed colors as part of MSG’s renovation 20 years ago. Ticket prices for both teams increased the last two seasons, but Ratner said, “Everything is selling really well, and we've (been) very pleased with the entire process -- from the construction to the sales.” The transformation of MSG concludes next summer with Phase III. Projects during the final phase include the restoration of the arena’s ceiling, renovation of the main lobby and the construction of the “Chase bridges” -- the first-of-their-kind seating areas that hang above the playing surface. “Everyone can’t wait to see those bridges,” said Ratner. “They’re all everyone wants to talk about” (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).
YOU SEE ME IN THE CLUB: Ratner said that another new feature, The Madison Club, "has about 170 seats and is about the size of 10 suites." In New Jersey, John Brennan noted buyers "can choose as few as two Madison Club seats" (NORTHJERSEY.com, 8/8). In N.Y., Nate Taylor noted 85% of MSG's new suites "have been sold for the coming season." Also, the eighth-floor concourse will be "where fans can see the Garden's history -- from the first arena in 1879 to now -- as 366 moments (one for each day in the year) will be displayed on the wall" (NYTIMES.com, 8/8).