On 24 October, executives from Madison Square Garden (MSG), together with sporting legends, swimsuit models, actors and musicians, unveiled a three year, top-down, billion dollar transformation of what is widely considered to be the most storied sports arena in the United States.
The renovation goes far beyond a mere ‘dusting off' or 'updating' of the venue, with new skybridges installed that will put the fans closer to the action, providing them with comfortable, VIP seating and unobstructed views.
Those bridges, named Chase bridges after the banking giant, are a nod to New York’s suspension bridges. The two bridges, north and south, are suspended from the Garden’s ceiling by steel tube hangers. First class food and beverage options are steps away from the seats, including MSG Signature options from local top chefs and restauranteurs like Jean Georges.
The bridges with their colours and curving forms are intended to compliment the interior architecture of the Garden’s bowl. Each one is 233ft long by 22ft wide and together they weigh 662 tons. The two bridges combined will seat 430 fans for NY Knicks and NY Rangers games and for concerts and other events.
The transformation which began in 2011 and completed Friday with the opening of an exhibition game between the New York Knicks and the Charlotte Bobcats National Basketball franchises was led by Murray Beynon of the Canadian practice BBB Architects.
One question that still looms large over the Garden is what will happen to the storied arena with proposals for a new Penn Station still milling about. As readers will recall the Garden’s lease to operate above Penn Station on land it owns was recently extended by nine years.
At the press opening, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking to Dana Rubinstein, a journalist with online news publiaction Capital, said of the Garden’s fate: “I think that’s something we’ll talk about in year nine.”
For now it is all happy talk. The transformation vastly improves the fan experience with a new soaring light-filled lobby, new circulation routes that take fans through areas where rarely before seen memorabilia is generously displayed before delivering them to their seats, which, as a result of the redesign, are cushier and closer to the action than ever before with not a bad seat in the house.