Madison Square Garden Hosts Red Carpet Tour to Reveal Renovations
Added by Luis Vazquez on October 25, 2013.
Mark Messier speaks during the event at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Marlene Amaya-Vazquez)
Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena, is in its fourth incarnation, but with a new face. For the past three years, it has been renovating on the fly, while still maintaining sports, entertainment, and political events. Yesterday morning, a press conference, red carpet, and tour was arranged to highlight the finished product.
The assembly of press, celebrities, and legends that sat together at the Garden Press conference, were a testament to the power of a building, a symbol of New York to be sure. The five men who sat on stage all have made a name, either publicly or privately, at Madison Square Garden.
We had Mark Messier, former New York Ranger captain and Stanley Cup Champion in 1994. Willis Reed, the New York Knicks Captain and winner of two NBA Championships, MSG Company Executive Chairman, Jim Dolan, and its President and Chief Executive Officer Hank Ratner, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
They all spoke respectively about the story of the construction. Willis Reed joked that during the renovation they removed the famous alley where he walked out in Game 7 of the 1969-70 NBA Finals. He heard they also moved his retired jersey. “I had to come back to New York and check that out, but luckily they did not do that.” Willis laughed along with the audience. Messier pointed out the necessity of a team to accomplish anything major. “No one wins championships alone, it’s done collectively.” Mark explained. “No one can do anything of this magnitude; it’s a collaboration of many people that were able to make this dream come true.”
Hank Ratner, who oversaw the project, felt that the renovation while the arena was still active was a positive. “There is no venue that comes close to Madison Square Garden and this transformation is to pay homage to that unparalleled legacy while making it state-of-the art.”
Dolan gave Ratner a lot of credit for putting in the hours he would have had to do himself ordinarily. He wanted the fans to know how important this was to the fans. “More importantly we wanted this to be about our fans from the first row to the last row.” He was also pleased to announce that the Garden was awarded the 2015 NBA All-Star Game and the 2014 NCAA Tournament East Regional championship. “This is the first time we have had the tournament in more than 50 years.” Governor Cuomo spoke last and his pride in the city shown out. “As Governor of New York you get to do a lot of things, but I have to tell you today as a boy from Queens, Willis Reed and Mark Messier, how cool is today?” Cuomo beamed.
The press conference ended with an interactive presentation of the large video screens that will be displayed in the Garden to enhance the fan experience. It included a series of virtual panels, one opened by Carmelo Anthony who peeked out. This was followed by a sky view of the sky above the Garden and ended with all five New York starters showing off their ball handling skills before passing to each other.
It took four phases to complete this one billion dollar project. The first phase created a new lower bowl with larger and more comfortable seats. They expanded the SAP Madison Concourse as well as adding 20 new Nespresso Event Level Suites. Delta Sky360 and 1879 Clubs by J.P. Morgan saw new facilities. Also the Knicks and Rangers locker rooms as well as Star dressing rooms were upgraded significantly.
Phase II saw the Upper Bowl seating completed and an expanded Garden Concourse. New Suite for Lexus Madison Suite Level with 58 new suites added. A new all-inclusive Madison Club which Foxwoods presented was added along with the return of the beloved “Blue Seats.”
The third and final phases highlighted a transformed Chase Square 7th Avenue entrance twice the size as its predecessor along with new merchandise stores, a Garden of Dreams area, box office, and broadcast location. Also included are two of the aforementioned 600 square foot ceiling video screens featuring ground-breaking content. Two Chase Bridges and a Balcony on the bridge level included. A state-of-the-art Garden Vision center hung multimedia display, and 18 transformed suites with “center stage” views for concerts. Finally the restoration of the iconic Garden wood ceiling completed the work.
The tour took all these into view and a special photo session was arranged as stars such as boxers Gerry Cooney, Buddy McGirt, and Mark Breland appeared. They also had actors Edward Burns, Chazz Palminteri, Tony Sirico from the Sopranos and Kevin Kline along with rapper 50 Cent, and former Knicks John Starks, Anthony Mason, Gerald Wallace, Larry Johnson, Walt Frazier, and former Syracuse great Dwayne “Pearl” Washington. Former Yankee great Willie Randolph and several models from Victoria Secrets and Sports Illustrated were present as well. This evening marks the official opening of a totally renovated Garden with the New York Knicks pre-season games against the Charlotte Bobcats.