Last week, Madison Square Garden president and CEO Hank Ratner led a tour of Year 2 of the arena renovation process, a nearly $1 billion project that finishes in 2013. The newest additions include a revamped upper-bowl seating area and Garden Concourse (eighth floor), new Madison Suites and a Madison Club on the seventh floor, and a new "Garden 366" visual retrospective and "Defining Moments" exhibits.
Here's a breakdown:
1. Upper-bowl seating: The seats on the seventh through ninth floors have not only moved three rows closer to the court, but also 17 degrees lower. In addition, the iconic "blue seats" are back on the ninth floor. They were changed to purple during the arena's last renovation from 1989 to 1991, but by fan request they have returned (they're more of a turquoise color). On the 10th floor, there are new concessions behind the seats.
2. Garden Concourse: Because of the updated upper-bowl seating sight lines, the concourse has gotten wider and its ceiling taller. It's more modern, industrial-looking with its darker floors and exposed ceiling with the piping. The concourse includes more bathrooms, retail shops and the same signature food items as the sixth floor from top chefs Andrew Carmellini, Jeremy Marshall, Drew Nieporent and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
3. Madison Suites: They've moved from the 10th floor to the seventh, making them 30 rows from the court and 23 rows from the ice. The 620-square-foot suites, which feature wood paneling and leather furniture, wrap around the entire arena. There are four left to purchase for the season, and some of them will be made available in mid-January.
4. Madison Club: The members-only area is the size of 10 suites and can hold 172 people. The seats go for about $40,000 each and come with entry to all Knicks, Rangers, college basketball, boxing, tennis and every other sporting event held at the Garden.
5. Garden 366: One visual moment in Garden history for every day (including the leap year) will wrap around the entire sixth floor, featuring the arena's hosting of sports, music, entertainment and political events.
6. Defining Moments: 10 of the arena's greatest moments will be commemorated on the sixth floor through special exhibits that feature photos, memorabilia and additional artifacts. Ten more will be unveiled in the fall of 2013 on the eighth floor. All of them were chosen by fans.
Phase III next summer will include a rebuilt lobby and entryway, a new scoreboard and two unique, 225-foot-long seating bridges never built before in any arena, stretching from one side to the other.
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