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Madison Square Garden
"MSG"'", "The Garden"
Madison Square logo
Madison Square
A view of the front entrance street level.
Location: 4 Pennsylvania Plaza
Manahattan, New York 10001
U.S. Flag United States [1]
Owner: Madison Square Garden Company
Operator: MSG Entertainment
Capacity: 19,812
Construction information
Broke ground: October 29, 1964
Opened: February 11, 1968
Construction
cost
:
$123 million
Tenants
New York Knicks (NBA)
New York Liberty (WNBA) (1997-2010, 2014-present)
St. John's Red Storm (NCAA) (1969-present)
Court floor design
New York Knicks court logo

Madison Square Garden is a multi-purpose indoor arena located on Pennsylvania Plaza in downtown Manhattan, New York. The arena is home to the professional basketball team New York Knicks of the NBA, New York Liberty of the WNBA and NCAA's St. Johns's. There have been four incarnations of the arena. The first two were located at the northeast corner of Madison Square (Madison Avenue and 26th Street) from which the arena derived its name. Subsequently a new 17,000-seat Garden (opened December 15, 1925) was built at 50th Street and 8th Avenue, and the current Garden (opened February 14, 1968) is at 7th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets, situated on top of Pennsylvania Station.

The arena lends its name to the Madison Square Garden Network, and sister channel MSG Plus, two cable television networks that broadcast most sporting events that are held in the Garden, as well as concerts and entertainment events that have taken place at the venue. In 2007 the Arena came second as 'World's Busiest Arena' after the M.E.N. in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Madison Square Garden also refers to itself in its advertising campaigns as "The World's Most Famous Arena."

History

Madison Square Garden derives its name from the park where the first two gardens were located (Madison Square) on Madison Avenue at 26th Street. As the venue moved to new locations the name still stuck, although since 1925 Madison Square Garden has been neither a garden nor on Madison Square.

1879

"The original Madison Square Garden, built in 1879 at 26th Street and Madison Avenue, was built for a velodrome," an oval bicycle racing track with banked curves, then one of the biggest sports in the country. "Races testing speed and endurance drew huge crowds, with the top riders among the sports stars of their day. The bike races at Madison Square Garden were all the rage around the turn of the last century. A velodrome circuit flourished around the country, with the best racers earning $100,000 to $150,000 a year at a time when carpenters were lucky to make $5,000." [1] Madison Square Garden was the most important bicycle racing track in the United States and the Olympic discipline known as the madison is named after the original Garden.

1890–1925

The second Madison Square Garden (now known as Madison Square Garden II), also located at 26th and Madison Avenue was designed by Stanford White, who would later be killed at the Garden's rooftop restaurant. White kept an apartment in the tower; there are conflicting accounts of whether the famous "red velvet swing" was located there, or in a nearby building on 24th Street.[2]

The new structure was over 300 lbs. by over 300 lbs. of Moorish architecture with a minaret-like tower soaring 32 stories over Madison Square Park and was the city's second tallest building. The Garden's main hall, which was the largest in the world, measured 200 by over 300 lbs. with permanent seating for 8,000 people and floor space for thousands more.

Topping the garden was a statue of Diana, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The original bronze statue was 18 ft tall and weighed 1800 lb., but spun with the wind. It was placed on top of the tower in 1891, but was soon thought to be too large by Saint-Gaudens and White, the architect. (It was removed and placed on top of a building at The World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago - the bottom half was destroyed by a fire after the close of the Exhibition, and the top half was lost.) In 1893 a gilded, hollow copper, 2nd version of Diana, replaced the original on top of the Garden tower. This 2nd version was over 300 lbs.. tall and is now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a copy is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Saint-Gaudens made several smaller variants in bronze, one of which was on display in the entryway of Madison Square Garden III, and also in a similar location in the current Garden, MSG IV.

It hosted the 1924 Democratic National Convention, which nominated John W. Davis after 103 ballots. Afterwards, it was torn down to make way for the landmark New York Life Insurance Building.

White was a member of the architecture firm McKim, Mead and White which designed Pennsylvania Station which was torn down to make way for MSG IV. The firm also designed the James Farley Post Office which is being proposed as the anchor for the proposed new Pennsylvania Station. The New York Life Insurance Company decided to demolish Madison Square Garden.

1925–1968

File:1925 NYA program.jpg

The third garden, now known as Madison Square Garden III, was built on 50th Street and Eighth Avenue by boxing promoter Tex Rickard and was dubbed "The House That Tex Built." The New York Rangers, owned by Rickard, got their name from a wordplay on his name (Tex's Rangers). It was built in 249 days on the site of the city's streetcar barns. However, the Rangers were not the first NHL team to play at the Garden; the New York Americans had begun play in 1925 and were so wildly successful at the gate that Rickard wanted his own team as well. The Rangers were founded in 1926 and both teams played at the Garden until the Americans folded in 1942, the Rangers having stolen their commercial success with their own success on the ice (winning three Stanley Cups between 1928 and 1940). The Americans suspended operations due to World War II, and Garden management's refusal to allow the resurrection of the team after the war was one of the popular theories underlying the Curse of 1940 that supposedly prevented the Rangers from winning the Stanley Cup again until 1994.

While the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had debuted at the Garden in 1919, the third Garden saw large numbers of performances. The circus was so important to the Garden that when the Rangers played in the 1928 Stanley Cup Finals, the team was forced to play all games on the road (the Rangers won the series anyway). The circus would continue to perform as often as three times daily, repeatedly knocking the Rangers out of the Garden at playoff time, throughout the life of the third Garden. Even at the fourth Garden, games would have to begin as late as 9:00 p.m. to accommodate the circus. The Circus Acrobatics were very dramatic including acts in the Rings as well as on the high wire and trapeze. One dramatic act which was only performed in the Garden, and not taken on the road with the traveling Circus, involved Blinc Candlin, a Hudson, New York fireman, who rode his (already antique) 1880s High Wheel bicycle on the high wire every season for over 2 decades starting in the 1910s and running well through the 1930s.

Boxing was Madison Square Garden III's principal claim to fame. The building exterior in contrast to the ornate towers of the first two Garden was a simple box. Its most distinctive feature was its ornate marquee that was above the main entrance, with its seemingly endless abbreviations (Tomw., V/S, Rgrs, Tonite, Thru, etc.) Even the name was abbreviated: Madison Sq. Garden. On January 17, 1941, 23,190 people witnessed Fritzie Zivic successful welterweight defense against Henry Armstrong. That is the biggest attendance record of any of the Gardens. MSG III was featured prominently in the 2005 Ron Howard film Cinderella Man (although exterior montage shots glorified it by placing it against the Times Square signs on Broadway when it was in fact one block west).

File:NYR1932 33.jpg

It hosted the only indoor bout in the career of Jack Dempsey. It cost $4.75 million to build; this one hosted seven NCAA men's basketball championships between 1943 and 1950.

City College of New York (CCNY) was one of the first schools banned from playing at MSG due to the 1951 CCNY Point Shaving Scandal.[3]

It also hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 1954 and 1955. Ironically one type of event that was never held in the 50th St. MSG (except in the movies) was a national Democratic or Republican nominating convention as neither of these parties met in New York to select their candidates for President and Vice President of the United States between 1924 and 1976.

The third Garden had poor sightlines, especially for hockey, and fans sitting in the upper deck could count on having some portion of the ice obstructed, unless they sat in the first row. The fact that there was poor ventilation and that smoking was permitted often led to a haze in the upper portions of the Garden.

When it was torn down, there was a proposal to build the world's tallest building on its site prompting a major battle in its Hell's Kitchen neighborhood that ultimately resulted in strict height restrictions. The space remained a parking lot though until 1989 when Worldwide Plaza designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill opened.

Madison Square Garden Bowl

File:NYP LOC4.jpg

Madison Square built an open air arena, the Madison Square Garden Bowl at 48th Street and Northern Boulevard in Long Island City in 1932 that could seat 72,000. This was the site where James Braddock defeated Max Baer for the World Heavyweight title on June 13, 1935 that was dramatized in the film Cinderella Man. Braddock was born on West 48th Street in Hell's Kitchen just a few blocks from the West 49th Street location of MSG III. Braddock's first comeback fight against John "Corn" Griffin was also in the venue. Jack Sharkey and Primo Carnera also captured the heavyweight crown in the 1930s at the Madison Square Garden Bowl.

The bowl was torn down after World War II to make way for a US Army Mail Depot. It, in turn, was torn down and the area is now home to car dealerships.

1968–present

On February 14, 1968 Madison Square Garden IV opened after the Pennsylvania Railroad tore down the above-ground portions of Pennsylvania Station and continued railway traffic underneath. The new structure was one of the first of its kind to be built above an active railroad system and the platforms of an active railroad station. It was an engineering feat constructed by R.E. McKee of El Paso, Texas.

Public outcry over the demolished Beaux-Arts structure led to the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The current Garden is the hub of Madison Square Garden Center in the office and entertainment complex formally addressed as Pennsylvania Plaza and commonly known as "Penn Plaza" for the railroad station atop which the complex is located.

In 1972, the Garden's Chairman, Irving Mitchell Felt, suggested moving the Knicks and the Rangers to what was a proposed venue in the New Jersey Meadows (now completed and known as Meadowlands Sports Complex or Izod Center.) This location now hosts its own NBA team (New Jersey Nets) and from 1981–2007, the NHL's New Jersey Devils. The NFL's New York Giants were the only established New York-named team that actually did move there, and they were later joined by the Jets. Felt's efforts fueled controversy between the Garden and New York City over Real Estate Tax. The scenario again flared in 1980 when a reported threat by the Garden supposed a similar move of popular sports teams in an effort to again challenge property tax. Efforts were ignored by city leaders.

MSG was the home arena for the NY Raiders/NY Golden Blades of the World Hockey Association.

In 1991, Garden owners spent $200 million to renovate facilities and add 89 suites. The process involved hundreds of upper-tier seats being removed to make way. The project was designed by Ellerbe Becket.

In 2004–2005 Cablevision (the Garden's owner) battled with the City of New York over proposed West Side Stadium which would compete with the Garden. New stadium proposals halted; and Cablevision announced its own plans to raze the Garden, replace it with high-rise commercial buildings and build a new Garden one block away at the James Farley Post Office site in conjunction with the Moynihan Station project. However, on April 3, 2008 MSG executives announced plans to once again renovate and modernize the current Garden in time for the Knicks and Rangers' 2011–12 seasons, [4] though the vice president of the Garden says he remains committed to the original Moynihan project - the installation of an extension of Penn Station in the Farley Post Office.

In 2007, over 13,000 fans enjoyed the NLL's New York Titans' inaugural home opener at Madison Square Garden.

Present operations

File:MSG Messier Night.jpg

The present Garden hosts approximately 320 events a year but it is best known as the home of the New York Rangers of the NHL; the New York Knicks of the NBA and their sister operation the New York Liberty of the WNBA. The aforementioned professional sports teams play their home games in the arena and are owned by the Garden itself. It also hosts the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus when it comes to New York City (although the Izod Center and Nassau Coliseum also host the circus each year), selected home games for the St. John's men's Red Storm (college basketball), the Big East Men's Basketball Conference Tournament, the annual pre and postseason NIT tournaments, the NBA Draft, the Millrose Games athletics meet, and almost any other kind of indoor activity that draws large audiences, such as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and the 2004 Republican National Convention. It has previously hosted the 1976, 1980 and 1992 Democratic National Conventions, and hosted the NFL Draft for many years (now held at Garden-leased Radio City Music Hall). In 2008, five home games for the New York Titans lacrosse team were be played at the Garden.

MSG hosted the folloiwng All-Star Games:

MSG also hosted games in the finals:

  • Stanley Cup Finals:
    • 1972
    • 1979
    • 1994
      • Game 7 of the 1994 Finals was the biggest hockey game ever played in New York.

Connecticut-based World Wrestling Entertainment considers it a home arena as well, due to the fact that all generations of the McMahon family, including Vince McMahon's father and grandfather, have promoted shows at the Garden. MSG has hosted several WrestleMania]] and SummerSlam events, two Survivor Series events and the 2000 and 2008 Royal Rumble. More WWE Championships have been won at MSG than any other arena. WWE's strong relationship with Madison Square Garden prevented competitor World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from ever having a show at the Garden. In 2005, WWE severed business ties with the arena because WWE felt that increased rental costs would prevent them from making a profit in the building. However, over a year later, World Wrestling Entertainment temporarily patched things up with MSG and the hiatus ended with a September 11, 2006 edition of Raw and HEAT. Though they pulled the 20th installment of SummerSlam, which would have been held at the Garden on August 26 2007. (It was held at the Continental Airlines Arena) WWE continues to make occasional appearances at MSG, and returned for the 2008 Royal Rumble in January.

MSG is also known for its place in the history of boxing. Many of boxing's biggest fights were held at Madison Square Garden, including many of Joe Louis, the Roberto Duran-Ken Buchanan affair, and the first Joe Frazier–Muhammad Ali bout. In March 1947, Herbie Kronowitz of Brooklyn and Artie Levine of Cleveland thrilled a crowd of 12,000 during a 10-round battle between the two Jewish fighters. Levine won the decision, although Kronowitz claimed that while Levine "won the decision. There was no question that I won the fight." Before promoters such as Don King and Bob Arum moved boxing to Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden was considered the mecca of boxing. The original 18½' × 18½' ring, which was brought from the second and third generation of the Garden, was officially retired on September 19, 2007 and donated to the International Boxing Hall of Fame after 82 years of service. A 20' × 20' ring replaced it beginning on October 6 of that same year.

File:Knicks playing at Madison Square Garden.jpg

Many large popular-music concerts in New York City take place in Madison Square Garden. Particularly famous ones include George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh, The Concert for New York City following the September 11 attacks and John Lennon's final concert appearance before his murder in 1980. The Garden usually hosts a concert each year on New Years Eve, with the Knicks and Rangers usually playing on the road.

Many musical acts released seminal live albums recorded at MSG, including, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eminem, The Grateful Dead, Paul McCartney, Luis Miguel, Shania Twain, Jay-Z, Led Zeppelin, Fania All Stars, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Billy Joel, Phish, Elton John, Elvis Presley, Céline Dion, Madonna, Mary J Blige, George Michael, U2, The Rolling Stones, Britney Spears, Shakira, Slayer, Kelly Rowland, Gareth Gates, Justin Timberlake, NSYNC, Nine Inch Nails, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Spice Girls, The Who, Beyonce, Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin, Barbra Streisand, RBD, and Se7en. Other artists, yet including Led Zeppelin and others such as Dispatch, Janet Jackson, Pearl Jam, Mariah Carey, O.A.R., Marc Anthony and Victor Manuelle have released DVDs showing their live performances at the Garden. Some of these releases, such as by Cream and Michael Jackson, show special anniversary or reunion concerts at the venue. An extensive list of live performances played at the venue is included below.

The arena is also used for other special events, including tennis and circus events. The New York Police Academy, New York University, Baruch College/CUNY and Yeshiva University also hold their annual graduation ceremonies at Madison Square Garden. It has become the New York site of the annual Grammy Awards (which are normally held in Los Angeles) and hosted the 2005 Country Music Awards|Country Music Association Awards (normally held in Nashville).

The Big East Conference men's basketball tournament has been held at MSG every year since 1983 making it the longest period a conference tournament has been held at a single location. The PBR has even made frequent stops each year.

During many of the events that take place at the arena, George Kalinsky, the arena's photographer, has taken many memorable photographs.

Seating

Seating in the present Madison Square Garden is arranged in six ascending levels. The first level, available for basketball games and concerts, but not for hockey games, is the "floor" or "court-side" seating. Next above this is the loge seating, followed by the 100-level and 200-level promenades, the 300-level promenade, and the 400-level or mezzanine. The seats of these levels originally bore the colors red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, respectively. For hockey, the Garden seats 18,200; for basketball, 19,763; and for concerts 20,000 center stage, 19,522 end-stage. The arena features 20,976 square feet (1949 m²) of arena floor space.

File:Madison Square Garden court.jpg

Because all of the seats, except the 400 level, are in one monolithic grandstand, distance from the arena floor is significant from the ends of the arena. Also, the rows rise much more gradually than other North American arenas, which can cause impaired sightlines, especially when sitting behind tall spectators or one of the concourses.

Other venues

Today's Madison Square Garden is more than just the arena. Other venues at the Garden include:

  • The WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, which seats between 2,000 and 5,600 for concerts and can also be used for meetings, stage shows, and graduation ceremonies, and was also the traditional home of the NFL Draft until 2005, when it moved to the Jacob Javits Convention Center after MSG management opposed a new stadium for the New York Jets. It also occasionally hosts major boxing matches on nights when the main arena is unavailable. No seat is more than 177 feet (54 m) from the 30-foot-by-64-foot stage. The theatre has a relatively low 20 foot ceiling at stage level[5] and all of its seating except for boxes on the two side walls is on one level slanted back from the stage. There is an 8000 sq. ft. lobby at the theater. When the current Garden opened in 1968, the Theater was known as the Felt Forum, in honor of then president Irving Felt. In the early 1990s, it was renamed the Paramount to be the successor to the Paramount Theater (New York City) in Times Square which had been converted to an office tower (the name change being due to the fact that Paramount Communications (which had previously been known as Gulf+Western) owned the Garden during this period). The theater received its next name of The Theater at Madison Square Garden in the mid-90s, after Viacom bought Paramount, and sold the MSG properties to a group consisting of ITT and Cablevision, which each owned 50% of the Garden. In 1997, ITT sold their share to Cablevision, giving the cable company full control of the venue. The fall 1999 Jeopardy! Teen Tournament as well as a Celebrity Jeopardy! competition were held at the theater. In 2004, it was the venue of the Survivor: All Stars finale. On May 17, 2007, the theater received its current name due to a naming rights deal with Washington Mutual. Since Washington Mutual is no longer a bank after being seized by the Office of Thrift Supervision and FDIC and sold to JP Morgan Chase, the fate of the name is currently unknown. [6]
  • The over 300 lbs. Expo Center (formerly known as "The Rotunda") is used for trade shows, cat shows, stamp shows, often in combination with the arena, banquets, and receptions.
  • A over 300 lbs. terrace and two restaurants: the Garden Club and the Play-by-Play.

Other corporate operations

In addition to the Garden itself, Madison Square Garden, L.P. also operates two theaters in Manhattan: Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre. In 2008, they took over operations of the Chicago Theatre, marking the first time MSG has operated a facility outside New York City area.

Past Corporate Operations

Madison Square Garden also used to operate the XL Center (formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center) and Rentschler Field under contract with the state of Connecticut until the 2007 season when it was replaced by Northland/Anschutz Entertainment Group.[7][8]

The XL Center, an indoor arena in Hartford, Connecticut, is home to the Rangers AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack. The arena also serves as the part-time home of the men's and women's basketball teams of the University of Connecticut.

Rentschler Field, a stadium in East Hartford, hosts UConn's college football team. It was built for the University of Connecticut after a plan to build a larger stadium that would have accommodated both the Huskies and New England Patriots fell through. It also hosts various concerts and soccer matches.[8]

Notable firsts and significant events

Film, television and popular culture

File:Madison Square Garden food court.jpg

As an iconic figure, Madison Square Garden has made various appearances in film and television programs. It was featured in the 1979 Robert Redford film The Electric Horseman. Madison Square Garden is featured in the opening scenes of Highlander (1986), which included footage of former tag team The Fabulous Freebirds. (It is worth noting, however, that only the exterior was used; the interior shots were from the then Brendan Byrne Arena). The Garden's marquee is seen in the 1984 comedy film, Top Secret! advertising a concert by the protagonist, Nick Rivers. In 1988 it featured scenes in the cult comedy hit Coming to America.

Madison Square Garden was the "nest" for the carnivorous Godzilla babies and was later destroyed by F/A-18s in the Americanized version of Godzilla (1998). Madison Square Garden was featured in the films Glitter, Forget Paris, Finding Forrester, and the Adam Sandler remake of Mr. Deeds. In Paternity, Burt Reynolds plays the manager of the Garden. The famous scene from Citizen Kane with Orson Welles standing in front of his giant picture took place in the third Garden (though it was not filmed there).

In the movie Rocky III, the rematch between Clubber Lang and Rocky Balboa is in The Garden.

The American sitcom Friends has used shots of Madison Square Garden several times. In the episode The One with George Stephanopoulos, Chandler, Joey, and Ross go to see a Rangers game, in The One with the Late Thanksgiving, Joey and Ross are late to Thanksgiving dinner because they go to see a Rangers game and in The One Where Rachel's Sister Baby-Sits Mike proposes to Phoebe on the big screen during a Knicks game. The Garden was also frequently featured on Seinfeld, as characters sporadically attended Rangers or Knicks games; David Putty's face-painting as a fan of the New Jersey Devils features the infamous Blue seats.

The 1996 film Eddie starring Whoopi Goldberg, in which die hard Knicks fan Edwina Franklin (Goldberg) becomes the coach of the team, takes place at Madison Square Garden.

The arena has also made various appearances on television. The television series Futurama, set in the year 3000, features "Madison Cube Garden" which appears like a cube standing on one partially-buried corner.

In episode 409 of South Park, Something You Can Do With Your Finger, Cartman has a dream where he, Stan, Kyle and Kenny perform there in their boy band dubbed "Fingerbang". The crowd was completely female.

The garden's front rail was frontside boardslided by skateboarder Brian Anderson in Girl Skateboards' Yeah Right!

One of the concert venues in the video game Rock Band is a fictitious New York concert hall called "Empire Square Garden", a clear reference to The Garden.[9]

In the anime Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, the character Ryohei Sasagawa, obsessed with boxing said he always saw stars and the Madison Square Garden, even when it was the afternoon.

Madison Square Garden was also featured in Madonna's 2006 CD/DVD I'm Going to Tell You a Secret. The DVD is a documentary that follows Madonna on her 2004 Re Invention Tour.

A scene in the romantic comedy movie "Hitch" starring Will Smith took place at Madison Square Garden during a Knicks basketball game.

In 1985 and then again in 2007, Schwinn introduced a bicycle named the Madison, after the popular Madison Races which originated at the first Madison Square Garden — when located next to Madison Square.

External Links


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