Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
The worldīs most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, is the home of the New York Rangers, one of the most famous hockey-teams on the planet. Todays Madison Square Garden is the fourth version of the historical building and the first version that is not shaped like a square (itīs round instead). The first Madison Square Garden opened itīs doors in 1874 when an abandoned railway-building in Manhatten was used as a facility for different events. In 1889 the 2nd MSG was build, the third followed in 1925 and in the 60īs today Madison Square Garden was placed ontop of Penn Station, one of the most active train stations of Manhatten and todayīs base of Amtrak and the Long Island Railroad Company. Thanks to the location right on top of the busy train-station the MSG was easy to reach from almost all points of the city.
Up to 20.000 people fit into todays Madison Square Garden, 18.200 for hockey-games. Itīs also home to the New York Knicks, was the site of the WTA`s season-ending Championchips until the moved to Frankfurt, Germany, for the 2001 season and is being used frequently for concerts and the circus. Three champions have been crowned on the fourth Garden soil. The NBAīs New York Knicks became world champions twice in the seventies and the New York Rangers finally captured their first Stanley Cup and 2nd in team history in 1994 in a dramatic 7-game-series against the Vancouver Canucks. The popularity of the Rangers reached itīs climax and 1.5 million fans showered the team with praise during the Stanley Cup-parade through Manhatten.
Ever since the Rangers won the cup in 94 the team sold out almost all itīs home-games, only one game in 1997-98 was not sold out completly. The arena itself is a piece of history. With all the corporate suits at the top of the arena the real fans are closer to the ice than in many other and all new arenas and the arena just has itīs special atmosphere. It is discussable wether the Garden is a nice arena. The concourses are narrow and look even older than they are and the bathrooms could need a renovation. Itīs definetly a different experience than a visit at a new 300-million-dollar arena such as the First Union Center in Philadelphia or the United Center in Chicago.
Discussions about the construction of a 5th Madison Square Garden came up during the last couple of years but so far nothing has materialized and I doubt that there will be a new facility anytime soon. I also hope that no new arena will come, or that, in the case a new MSG is built one day, itīs still an MSG and not a copy of all the other new arenas around the league (maybe with the exception of the Air Canada Center in Toronto, which still has a lot of atmosphere and flair to it). The Chicago Stadiums or Montreal Forums are all gone, so letīs keep at least the Garden for a while....
Tips for visitors:
Tickets were a huge problem for fans wishing to visit a game of the Rangers at the Garden in the past. Even though all games have been sold out since 1994 this is still a problem, especially due to the fact that 80% of all available tickets are being sold as season-tickets and are not even available for public sale. Itīs definetly wise to order tickets a long time in advance, but there is also always a chance at the box-office. With most of the season-tickets belonging to all kind of corporations in and around Manhatten many of the tickets go unused. The companies get part of their money back when they give the Garden a call and open their seats for the public sale. If you donīt have tickets just check a couple of hours before the game starts at the boxoffice wether season-ticket-seats have been put on resale. Many hotels in New York also have season-tickets so it might be worth a try to ask at the reception of your hotel wether they can arrange tickets for you. I definetly would not try to buy tickets from the well-organized scalpers in front of the arena. Chances are high that you will get robbed of your money or end up with fake-tickets. A friend of me ran into serious trouble when he tried to buy Knicks-tickets in front of the arena. At the end he had 240 dollars less then before and no tickets in his hand. Not really a situation you would want to end up in...
There is also a tour of the Madison Square Garden twice a day. In 1994 the tour was 8 dollars, in 1998 it was 13 dollars so that I would probably guess that they charge around 15 by now. It was well worth the money 7 years ago but if youīre not really an arena-fanatic it might not be worth 15 dollars anymore. The tour takes about an hour and is pretty interesting, you get to see the corporate suites, the theatre inside the garden, the locker rooms of the Knicks and Rangers, some of the club-restaurants and some video-clips of the Gardenīs history.
Gettting to Madison Square Garden is very easy. If you donīt know your way around just get to Times Square, which should be easy to get to from everywhere. Then just walk south (away from Central Park, past the Times Square Brewery) and after a couple of blocks the Garden will be on the right side of the street (7th avenue, 34th street, Times Square should be around 42th street). If you come into town by Amtrak or the Long Island Railroad just get out at Penn Station, youīre right under the ice. Opposite to the Madison Square Garden you can also find the hotel Pennsylvania, one of the biggest tourist-hotels in he city with 1.800 mostly worn-down and rather cheap rooms (if you plan to stay there ask about rooms on 7th avenue, there are still some old-fashined and big double-rooms, if you get stuck in the back you might end up with a rat-hole).
Seating chart of the MSG:
Seating-chart provided by www.eishockey.com.
Links to the team:
Homepage of the Rangers: www.newyorkrangers.com