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Felt Forum

This article is about the current arena in New York. For other uses, see Madison Square Garden (disambiguation).

Madison Square Garden
"MSG", "The Mecca", "The Garden", "The World's Most Famous Arena"
The Eighth Avenue facade of Madison Square Garden in August 2009
Location 4 Pennsylvania Plaza,
New York City, New York, U.S.

40°45′2″N 73°59′37″W / 40.75056°N 73.99361°W / 40.75056; -73.99361Coordinates: 40°45′2″N 73°59′37″W / 40.75056°N 73.99361°W / 40.75056; -73.99361

Broke ground October 29, 1964[1]
Opened Former locations: 1879, 1890, 1925
Current location: February 11, 1968
Renovated 1989–1991, 2011–2013
Owner The Madison Square Garden Company
Operator The Madison Square Garden Company
Construction cost $123 million
($NaN in 2014 dollars[2])

1991 – $200 million
($NaN in 2014 dollars[2])

Total cost:
$1.07 billion dollars in 2013 dollars
Architect Charles Luckman Associates
Brisbin Brook Beynon Architects
Structural engineer Severud Associates[3]
Services engineer Syska & Hennessy, Inc.[4]
General contractor Turner/Del E. Webb[4]
Capacity Basketball: 19,812[5]
Ice hockey / Lacrosse: 18,006[5]
Concerts: 20,000
Boxing: 20,789

The Theater at Madison Square Garden: 5,600
Field dimensions 820,000 square feet (76,000 m2)
Website Official website
Public transit access Penn Station
New York Knicks (NBA) (1968–present)
New York Rangers (NHL) (1968–present)
New York Liberty (WNBA) (1997–2010, 2014–future)
New York Titans (NLL) (2007–2009)
New York Knights (AFL) (1988)
New York CityHawks (AFL) (1997–1998)
Big East Men's Basketball Tournament (NCAA) (1983–present)
National Invitation Tournament (1969–present)
St. John's Red Storm (NCAA) (1969–present)

Madison Square Garden is a multi-purpose indoor arena in midtown Manhattan in New York City. Located between Seventh and Eighth Avenues from 31st to 33rd Streets, it is situated atop Pennsylvania Station. It is the fourth venue to bear the name, the first two of which were located on Madison Square, with the third Madison Square Garden further uptown at Eighth Avenue and 50th Street. The Garden is used for professional basketball and ice hockey, as well as boxing, concerts, ice shows, circuses, and other forms of sports and entertainment. It resides in close geographic proximity to other midtown Manhattan landmarks, including the Empire State Building, Koreatown, and Macy's at Herald Square. It is home to the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League and the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association.

Opening on February 11, 1968, it is now considered to be the oldest, and most active major sporting facility in the New York metropolitan area. It is the oldest arena in the National Hockey League and the second-oldest arena in the National Basketball Association. Madison Square Garden is the third-busiest music arena in the world in terms of ticket sales, behind the Manchester Arena and The O2 Arena, both in England.[6] At a total construction cost of approximately $1.1 billion, Madison Square Garden has been ranked as one of the ten most expensive stadium venues ever built.[7] It is part of the Pennsylvania Plaza office and retail complex. Several other operating entities related to the Garden share its name.


Madison Square meets at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street in Manhattan. It was named after James Madison, fourth President of the United States.[8] It was the site of two venues called Madison Square Garden, the first from 1879 to 1890, and the second from 1890 to 1925. A third Madison Square Garden opened in a new location, on Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, from 1925 to 1968.

On February 11, 1968,[9] the current Madison Square Garden (sometimes referred to as Madison Square Garden IV) opened after the Pennsylvania Railroad tore down the above-ground portions of Pennsylvania Station. The new structure was one of the first of its kind to be built above the platforms of an active railroad station. It was an engineering feat constructed by Robert E. McKee of El Paso, Texas. Public outcry over the demolition of Pennsylvania Station structure—an outstanding example of Beaux-Arts architecture—led to the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Garden is located in the office and entertainment complex formally addressed as Pennsylvania Plaza and commonly known as Penn Plaza, named for the railroad station.

In 1972, the Garden's chairman, Irving Mitchell Felt, proposed moving the New York Knicks and Rangers to a venue in the New Jersey Meadows (now completed and known as Meadowlands Sports Complex or Izod Center). The Garden was also the home arena for the NY Raiders/NY Golden Blades of the World Hockey Association. The Meadowlands would eventually host its own NBA and NHL teams (the New Jersey Nets and the New Jersey Devils, respectively). The NFL's New York Giants and Jets also relocated there. Felt's efforts fueled controversy between the Garden and New York City over real estate taxes. The disagreement again flared in 1980 when the Garden again challenged its tax bill.

In 1991, Garden owners spent $200 million to renovate facilities and add 89 suites in place of hundreds of upper-tier seats. The project was designed by Ellerbe Becket. In 2004–2005, Cablevision battled with the City of New York over the proposed West Side Stadium, which was cancelled. Cablevision then announced plans to raze the Garden, replace it with high-rise commercial buildings, and build a new Garden one block away at the site of the James Farley Post Office. Meanwhile a new project to renovate and modernize the Garden completed phase one in time for the Rangers and Knicks' 2011–12 seasons,[10] though the vice president of the Garden says he remains committed to the installation of an extension of Penn Station at the Farley Post Office site. While the Knicks and Rangers will not be displaced, the New York Liberty will play at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey during the renovation.

The renovated lower bowl opened on October 27, 2011, with features including new lower-level luxury suites and clubs. The number of restroom facilities was also increased, and following the renovations the quantity and variety of food options will also increase. The renovation is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

On July 24, 2013, the New York City Council voted to extend Madison Square Garden's lease to just ten years, in an effort to have the arena move to a different location so that a new Pennsylvania Station structure can be built where the Garden is currently standing.

Present operations

Madison Square Garden hosts approximately 320 events a year. It is the home to the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, and the New York Liberty of the Women's National Basketball Association. The New York Rangers, New York Knicks, New York Liberty, and the Madison Square Garden arena itself are all owned by Madison Square Garden, L.P. The arena is also host to the Big East Men's Basketball Conference Tournament and the finals of the National Invitation Tournament. Other regular events at the arena include the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus when it comes to New York City (although the Izod Center and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum also host the circus each year), selected home games for the St. John's men's Red Storm (college basketball), the annual pre and postseason NIT tournaments, the NBA Draft, the Millrose Games track and field 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 Democratic National Convention, 1980 Democratic National Convention and the 1992 Democratic National Convention, and hosted the NFL Draft for many years (now held at Garden-leased Radio City Music Hall). In 2007, over 13,000 fans enjoyed the National Lacrosse League's New York Titans inaugural home opener at Madison Square Garden. In 2008, the Titans played five home games at the Garden. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice relocated to Barclays Center when it opened in 2012, leaving the Garden with at least nine open dates.

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 the Roberto Durán-Ken Buchanan affair, and the first Joe FrazierMuhammad Ali bout. Before promoters such as Don King and Bob Arum moved boxing to Las Vegas, Nevada Madison Square Garden was considered the mecca of boxing. The original 18½' × 18½' (5.6 m × 5.6 m) 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' (6 m × 6 m) ring replaced it beginning on October 6 of that same year.

Many large music concerts in New York City take place in Madison Square Garden. Particularly famous ones include George Harrison's The Concert for Bangladesh, The Concert for New York City following the September 11 attacks, John Lennon's final concert appearance (during an Elton John concert on Thanksgiving Night, 1974) before his murder in 1980, and Elvis Presley, who gave four sold out performances in 1972, his first and last ever in New York City. A 1971 rock-and-roll revival concert at the Garden, featuring Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Ricky Nelson, during which Nelson was reportedly booed when he played newer material, is thought to have been the inspiration for his 1972 hit single "Garden Party". The Garden usually hosts a concert each New Year's Eve, while the Knicks and Rangers play on the road. The Police played their final show of their reunion tour at the Garden in 2008. Elton John holds the all-time record for greatest number of appearances at the Garden with 62 shows (the 60th occurring on his 60th birthday, March 25, 2007), and Billy Joel set a record in 2006 during his 12 performance run, the longest run of a single artist at the venue. In a 2009 interview, the two piano men spoke about their affinity for playing concerts at the Garden. "Madison Square Garden is my favorite venue in the whole world," said Elton John. "I chose to have my 60th birthday concert there, because of all the incredible memories I've had playing the venue."[11] "Madison Square Garden is the center of the universe as far as I'm concerned. It has the best acoustics, the best audiences, the best reputation, and the best history of great artists who have played there", said Billy Joel. "It is the iconic, holy temple of Rock and Roll for most touring acts and, being a New Yorker, it holds a special significance to me. I'm honored to hold the record for Most Consecutive Nights Ever Sold at this world famous venue."[11]

Jacky Cheung, Hong Kong singer and the best selling Asian artist in the mid-1990s, was the first Asian artist to perform at the Paramount, Madison Square Garden. His two-show performance in October 1995 is part of his 100-show world tour that year.[12]

On February 4, 2006, Rain became the first Korean to perform at Madison Square Garden. The tickets were sold out within a matter of days. He held his sold-out concert, Rainy Day New York from February 4–5. Rainy Day New York was marketed and promoted by the Asian concert production company Rainstone Live. Celebrities such as P-Diddy and JoJo also attend his concert.

The Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special was a 2001 New York City revue show by the American superstar. It took place on September 7 and 10, 2001. CBS television network later aired excerpts from the concerts as a two-hour special in honor of Michael Jackson's thirtieth year as a solo entertainer. The shows sold out in five hours. Ticket prices were pop's most expensive ever; the best seats cost $5,000 and included a dinner with Michael Jackson and a signed poster. Jackson reportedly earned $7.5 million for each of the two concerts, which is over $150,000 per minute.

The arena is also used for other special events, including tennis and circus events. The New York Police Academy, Baruch College/CUNY and Yeshiva University also hold their annual graduation ceremonies at Madison Square Garden. It hosted the Grammy Awards in 1972, 1997 and 2003 (which are normally held in Los Angeles) as well as the Latin Grammy Awards of 2006. The Garden also hosted the 2005 Country Music Association Awards (normally held in Nashville, Tennessee). 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 Professional Bull Riders has made annual stops since 2007 when its inaugural Built Ford Tough Series event was won by J. B. Mauney.


Seating in Madison Square Garden was initially arranged in six ascending levels. The first level, which was available only for basketball games and concerts, but not for hockey games and ice shows, as the "floor" or "court-side" seating. Next above this was the loge seating, followed by the 100-level and 200-level promenades, the 300-level promenade, and the 400-level or mezzanine.

Because all of the seats, except the 400 level, were in one monolithic grandstand, horizontal distance from the arena floor was significant from the ends of the arena. Also, the rows rose much more gradually than other North American arenas, which caused impaired sight lines, especially when sitting behind tall spectators or one of the concourses. This arrangement, however, created an advantage over newer arenas in that seats had a significantly lower vertical distance from the arena floor.

As part of the 2011–2013 renovation, the club sections, 100-level and 200-level have been combined to make a new 100-level lower bowl. The 300-level and 400-level were combined and raised 17 feet closer, forming a new 200-level upper bowl. One small section of the 400-level remains near the west end of the arena, and features blue seats.

The capacity for basketball has been as follows:[13]

  • 19,500 (1968–1971)
  • 19,588 (1971–1972)
  • 19,694 (1972–1978)
  • 19,591 (1978–1989)
  • 18,212 (1989–1990)
  • 19,081 (1990–1991)
  • 19,763 (1991–2012)
  • 19,033 (2012–2013)
  • 19,812 (2013–present)[5]

The capacity for hockey has been as follows:[14]

  • 17,250 (1968–1972)
  • 17,500 (1972–1990)
  • 16,792 (1990–1991)
  • 18,200 (1991–2012)
  • 17,200 (2012–2013)
  • 18,006 (2013–present)[5]

The Theater at Madison Square Garden

The Theater at Madison Square Garden seats between 2,000 and 5,600 for concerts and can also be used for meetings, stage shows, and graduation ceremonies. It was the home of the NFL Draft until 2005, when it moved to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center after MSG management opposed a new stadium for the New York Jets. It also hosted the NBA Draft from 2001 to 2010. The theater also occasionally hosts boxing matches on nights when the main arena is unavailable. 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. No seat is more than 177 feet (54 m) from the 30' × 64' stage. The theatre has a relatively low 20-foot (6.1 m) ceiling at stage level[15] 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 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) lobby at the theater.

When the Garden opened in 1968, the theater was known as the Felt Forum, in honor of then- president Irving Felt. In the early 1990s, at the behest of then-owner Paramount Communications, the theater was renamed the Paramount after the Paramount Theatre in Times Square had been converted to an office tower. The theater received its next name, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, in the mid-90s, after Viacom bought Paramount and sold the MSG properties. In 2007, the theater was renamed the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, due to a naming rights deal with Washington Mutual (now JPMorgan Chase). After Washington Mutual's failure in 2009, the name reverted to The Theater at Madison Square Garden.[16]

2011–2013 renovation

Madison Square Garden's $1 billion second renovation took place mainly over three offseasons. It was set to begin after the 2009–10 hockey/basketball seasons, but was delayed until after the 2010–11 seasons. Renovation was done in phases with the majority of the work done in the summer months to minimize disruptions to the NHL and NBA seasons. While the Rangers and Knicks were not displaced,[17][18] the Liberty played their home games through the 2013 season at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey during the renovation.[19][20]

New features include a larger entrance with interactive kiosks, retail, climate controlled space, and broadcast studio; larger concourses; new lighting and LED video systems with HDTV; new seating; two new pedestrian walkways suspended from the ceiling to allow fans to look directly down onto the games being played below; more dining options; and improved dressing rooms, locker rooms, green rooms, upgraded roof, and production offices. The in-arena walkways were eliminated, and portals have been installed between the sections. The lower bowl concourse, called the Madison Concourse, remains on the 6th floor. The upper bowl concourse was relocated to the 8th floor and it is known as the Garden Concourse. The seventh floor houses the new Madison Suites and the Madison Club. The upper bowl was built on top of these suites.The Loge 100 and 200 level were combined to create the new lower bowl. The 300 and 400 level were combined to create the new upper bowl. The periphery of the arena will permit city views. Construction of the lower bowl (Phase One) was completed for the 2011–2012 NHL and NBA seasons. An extended off-season for the Garden permitted some advanced work to begin on the new upper bowl, which is scheduled to be completed in the 2012–2013 seasons. This advance work included the West Balcony on the 10th floor, taking the place of sky-boxes, and new end-ice 300 level seating. The construction of the upper bowl along with the Madison Suites and the Madison Club (Phase Two) were completed for the 2012–2013 NHL and NBA seasons. The construction of the Chase Bridges along with the new scoreboard (Phase Three) were completed for the 2013–2014 NHL and NBA seasons.

Accessibility and transportation

Madison Square Garden sits directly atop a major transportation hub in Pennsylvania Station, featuring access to commuter rail service from the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit, as well as Amtrak. The Garden is also accessible via the New York City Subway. The A C E trains stop at Eighth Avenue and the 1 2 3 trains at Seventh Avenue in Penn Station. The Garden can also be reached from nearby Herald Square with the N Q R and B D F M trains at the 34th Street – Herald Square station as well as PATH train service from the 33rd Street station.

Penn Station renovation controversy

Madison Square Garden is seen by some as an obstacle in the renovation and possible future expansion of Penn Station. On February 15, 2013, Manhattan Community Board 5 voted 36 to 0 against granting a renewal to MSG's operating permit in perpetuity and proposed a 10-year limit instead in order to build a new Penn Station where the arena is currently standing. Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer said, “Moving the arena is an important first step to improving Penn Station.” The Madison Square Garden Company responded, “It is incongruous to think that M.S.G. would be considering moving.”[21] In June 2013, the New York City Council Committee on Land Use voted unanimously to give the Garden a ten year permit, at the end of which period the owners will either have to relocate, or go back through the permission process.[22] On July 24, the City Council voted to give the Garden a ten year operating permit by a vote of 47 to 1. “This is the first step in finding a new home for Madison Square Garden and building a new Penn Station that is as great as New York and suitable for the 21st century,” said City Council speaker Christine Quinn. “This is an opportunity to reimagine and redevelop Penn Station as a world-class transportation destination.”[23]

Notable Firsts and Significant Events

Further information: Events at Madison Square Garden

In 1980, the Garden hosted the first World judo championships for women, Jane Bridge (UK) in 48 kg won the gold medal. In 1985, the Garden hosted the inaugural Wrestlemania presented by the World Wrestling Federation, while in 1988 the Garden hosted the WWF's inaugural SummerSlam PPV. In 1990, Andrew Dice Clay became the only comedian in history to sell out Madison Square Garden two nights in a row. In 2009, MSG hosted the second longest NCAA men's basketball game when the Syracuse Orange and Connecticut Huskies went into six overtimes in the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament.

The Garden hosted the Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals simultaneously on two occasions: in 1972 and 1994.

MSG hosted the following All-Star Games:

MSG hosted the following championship rounds:

Stanley Cup Finals:

  • 1972: The Boston Bruins won their championship at Madison Square Garden.
  • 1979
  • 1994: The Rangers won their championship at Madison Square Garden.



Tennis Exhibition Matches:

Other notable concerts

In addition to the concerts described above, the Garden has hosted numerous other notable concerts:

1973 & 1977

  • Led Zeppelin: On their 1973 tour, they played MSG three times, filming the concerts for their upcoming film "The Song Remains The Same." For the 1977 tour, they played six sold-out dates in June, it was meant to be only four nights, but the demand was so great that they had to add other two nights.


  • Elvis Presley: Elvis made entertainment history in 1972 by becoming the first entertainer to sell out four consecutive shows at Madison Square Garden. Originally, there were three shows scheduled – one on June 9, and two on June 10. Due to overwhelming demand, a fourth show was added on June 11. A total of 80,000 people attended the four shows.


  • In 2010, Madison Square Garden chose the March 3 concert by Michael Jackson as the greatest concert ever held at the venue.[24] He also performed at MSG twice on September 7, 2001, and September 10, 2001, for his 30th Anniversary Special.



  • The Beatles: The Garden is the only venue at which each of the four former members of The Beatles played solo concerts after the breakup of the band – although not at the same time.
  • Grand Funk Railroad: December 23, 1972, they played their 4th concert at MSG, this time, marked with controversy, as this sold out benefit concert for the Phoenix House Drug Rehabilitation Center, that was being film for ABC's In-Concert Series, almost never happened, as their former manager, Terry Knight, filed an injunction to have their equipment seized and thus almost forced the concert to be cancelled, if not for a last minute agreement by al parties involved.
  • Grateful Dead: From 1979 to 1994, they played the Garden 52 times including two nine-night runs in 1988 and 1991.
  • Phish: Phish has played the Garden 27 times including 7 times on New Year's Eve.

See also

Architecture portal
National Basketball Association portal
Ice hockey portal
New York City portal


Further reading

External links

  • Official Site
  • MSG Network – tv
  • The Madison Square Garden Company
  • , January 2, 1967.
  • Hagley Digital Archives
  • The Concert Database
  • -logo.svg 
  • Madison Square Garden Seating Chart
  • Other Event Listing Sites
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