NEW YORK -- After three years, $1 billion, 2.6 million man-hours of labor and 2,851 tons of steel, the fully renovated Madison Square Garden is ready for its close-up.
James Dolan, the executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Co., helped unveil the renovated arena Thursday, along with MSG Chief Executive Officer Hank Ratner, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a host of guests from the worlds of sports and entertainment.
The press conference marked the official unveiling of the new Madison Square Garden, which over a three-year period underwent a massive top-to-bottom transformation.
"This has been a project of a lifetime," Ratner said. "There is no other venue that comes close to Madison Square Garden. This transformation needed to pay homage to that unparalleled legacy while making it state-of-the-art in every way.
"When we first started planning this project, we started getting feedback from our fans, partners, athletes and entertainers to understand what they wanted in a transformed arena with the goal of delivering a venue that will continue to set the standard by which all others are measured. I'm proud and very relieved to say I think we've done it."
The transformation begins from the moment guests enter the venue, which hosts the New York Rangers, New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association and countless concerts and events. Chase Square, the main arena entrance and ticketing area off 7th Avenue, has been expanded from 580 square feet to 1,800 square feet, complete with two giant 600-foot video screens embedded in the ceiling.
More space in the arena has been dedicated to suites, restrooms, concessions and concourses. The venue also installed an upgraded GardenVision scoreboard, which is more than twice as large as its predecessor.
"All of us know what New York means to the world and what this building means to the world. So the bar was set very high for this project," Dolan said. "We knew that the world's greatest fans deserved a complete state-of-the-art experience and they deserve to know that the Garden will continue to be the setting for the biggest and best events well into the future."
The renovations include a multitude of displays and memorabilia throughout the venue marking the long history of the arena, which officially opened in 1879 but has been in its current location since 1968.
The single biggest innovation may be the new Bridge level, which includes the EIGHTEEN/76 Balcony, a unique lounge seating area, as well as the Chase Bridges, a pair of overhanging seating areas offering one-of-a-kind views of the action.
"Nobody wins championships by themselves and nobody can do something of this magnitude by themselves. This is a collaboration of many people that were able to make this dream come true," long-time Rangers captain Mark Messier said. "Sports really is about entertainment and the fan experience. I think Madison Square Garden and New York City deserve this. I look forward to the next 20 years and more championships and new dreams in the brand new Garden."
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