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Madison Square Garden

New York, NY

Home of the New York Rangers

4.4

3.2

Madison Square Garden (map it)
4 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 10001


New York Rangers website

Madison Square Garden website

Year Opened: 1968

Capacity: 18,200

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Blue Shirts on Broadway

The New York Rangers began play in 1926 and immediately called Madison Square Garden home. However, they were not the first hockey club to play there, as the expansion New York Americans spent their inaugural season in 1925-26 at the Garden, the year it was opened. Located on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, this modern venue was the third to bear the now iconic name, despite being two miles away from the actual Madison Square. The first Garden opened in 1879 right above Madison Square and a newer venue was constructed in the same location in 1890, where it stood for 35 years.

Finally, Garden President Tex Rickard, seeking larger audiences, built a new Garden and allowed the Americans to become the first hockey club to play there. He had promised them that no other hockey team would be allowed to use the facility, but after seeing the success the Amerks had, he petitioned the NHL for a new franchise and was granted one in April 1926. The team became known as Tex’s Rangers and they soon eclipsed the Americans as the city’s hockey team, becoming the Broadway Blueshirts in the process. The Americans eventually folded in 1942, perhaps cursing the Rangers in the process as they went 54 years between Stanley Cups.

Despite being home to two teams for much of its existence, MSG was actually poorly designed for hockey, with terrible sight lines and obstructed views throughout much of the balcony. The arena was also poorly ventilated and in those days smoking was allowed, so there was often a haze in the upper portions. By 1964, it was clear a new venue was needed, and so construction began above Penn Station, which had removed its surface structure to allow the fourth Garden to be built. It was a challenge to create an entirely new arena above an active railroad station, but it succeeded brilliantly and MSG became known as the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” hosting the Rangers and New York Knicks, as well as hundreds of other events every year. Of course, with all that use the Garden aged quickly, and there was a renovation in the early 1990s, but by 2010, it was in dire need of a more thorough overhaul.

Beginning in 2011, MSG began a 3-year, billion dollar makeover that is being referred to as a "Transformation." The Transformation was self-funded by MSG, a publicly traded company, and it has certainly changed every aspect of the venue. The Garden was shut down for three consecutive off-seasons (2011, 2012, 2013), with construction continuing behind-the-scenes during the NHL and NBA campaigns. The finishing touches were applied during the third and final phase of construction, which took place during the summer months in 2013 and the grand re-opening took place in October with a Knicks pre-season game.

4.4

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    5

There are dozens of concession stands scattered around the two main concourses. However, items can be very expensive, as you would expect in New York. Many famous chefs are featured here, such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose Simply Chicken stands offer a chicken sandwich with mayo and frizzled onion strings for $14.25, an organic chicken hot dog for $6.25, and chicken sesame noodles for $10.95. Drew Nierpoint's Daily Burger comes in at $9.25, and for an extra dollar you can get a Daily Cheeseburger with bacon and onion jam or a BBQ burger, while fries are $4.95. Sausage Boss by Andrew Carmellini offers specialty links for $10.25, with a bag of Terra chips just $2.

Other NY favorites include the Carnegie Deli (Pastrami, Corned Beef, or Turkey sandwich for $14.95, while a Potato Knish is $5.95) and Hill Country Barbeque (Chopped Brisket Sandwich for $13.95 or Prime Rib Sandwich for $18.95). An 8-inch personal pizza from Casa Nonna is $10 and might provide the best value. Senzai Sushi is located near section 118 and offers platters ranging from $11 to $19.

The Garden Market is the most common stand, with $6.25 hot dogs ($6.75 for the foot-long variety) and $5 ice cream along with other snacks and candy. There are some seating areas where this is your only option (sections 216-220 for example) so I would recommend trying one of the signature offerings which are a bit more flavorful than the bland hot dog.

There is even a Healthy at the Garden gluten-free stand behind section 119 with fresh fruit and other reasonably priced options. Lineups here are shorter than the other options.

Beer is plentiful, but again not cheap with 24 oz. domestics at $10 and premium or imported, such as Hoegaarden at $10.50. Fountain soda is supplied by Coca-Cola and comes in two sizes - a 24 oz. medium for $5.25 and 32 oz. for $5.50 ($6.75 if you want a souvenir cup).

Atmosphere    4

The Garden is steeped in history and they don't let you forget it, making sure to use the term Original Six when the opponent is also one of those storied teams. The seating bowl is beautiful now, and even from the top rows along the sides you have a great view of the action, with the acoustics working well off the ceiling. I prefer to sit up high here in fact, or stand behind the nets, where you get a more authentic feeling from the true Rangers fans.

Of course, being New York, celebrities are always shown on the big screen, adding a unique touch to the proceedings.

Neighborhood    5

The Garden is located above Penn Station in central Manhattan, bounded by 7th and 8th Avenues and 31st and 33rd Streets. The Empire State Building is just two blocks away, while Times Square is a few minutes walk north. Go west to see the eclectic art galleries of Chelsea or take the subway two stops south to Union Square's happening bar scene. I could go on and on and on, but it is enough to say that Madison Square Garden is right in the middle of the greatest city on the planet and there are hundreds of restaurants and bars catering to every taste within minutes. If you must have a recommendation, try Legends, a sports bar on 33rd Street at 5th Avenue, just across from the Empire State Building. Just around the corner is Kirakuya, a wonderful Japanese establishment with a wide selection of sake should you be in the mood for something a bit more upscale.

Fans    4

New York is the center of tourism in the United States, and many in attendance at a Rangers game are from out of town and not necessarily accustomed to fan etiquette. There is some quibbling from those that consider themselves true fans that these tourists really don't get it, but for the most part they sit there quietly and watch the game. Still, the overall crowd can be loud when the Rangers are doing well, although quick to turn angry when there is a lack of effort. One witty fan, during a particularly poor power play, yelled, "Next time, tell me when you won't show up, I'll stay home too!"

Rangers' fans do have a tough reputation but in my experience they are friendly to those supporting the visiting teams, as long as they are not wearing the colors of the Devils or Islanders.

One interesting bit is that every period there is a time when somebody whistles and then the regular fans yell in unison "Potvin Sucks!" a tribute to long-time Islander star Denis Potvin.

Access    4

Getting to MSG is easy and public transit is the way to go for any visitor. The 1, 2, 3, A, C, and E subway lines all stop at Penn Station along with the Long Island Railroad, while the B, D, F, M, N, Q, and R lines are just a block away at 34th St/Herald Square. There may be some delays if you get there around game time as crowds can form at the Chase Entrance for security and ticket scanning, but be patient and you will get through. Take escalators in one of the four towers up to your seating level, but if you are looking to tour the venue, stop at the Madison Concourse (100 level) and walk around first. Concourses are bright and wide enough, even during halftime, where you'll have no trouble moving from level to level and around the venue. There are staircases throughout that are not used by many fans and provide quicker access to all levels once the game is underway.

The Garden Concourse is on the 200 level and a bit more crowded during the intermissions, but still easy enough to navigate. There are standing areas behind the nets, that give you a bit of freedom if you are feeling cramped in your seat, though be aware that they fill up quickly.

Move on up to one of the great new attractions here, the two new Chase Bridges on the 300 level. These span the north and south sides of the arena and provide unique views of the action down below as they are directly above the first row of the 200 level seats. You might be allowed to have a peek before the game but only ticketholders are allowed in once the action starts. Seats here are very limited and due to the steep drop, are blocked by glass, which might be a problem for some, especially in row 2 or 3. The views are quite dramatic though and if you have a chance to sit here for a game, you should take it. I should note that these bridges do block the scoreboard for those in the upper rows of the 200 level, but there are TV screens that display the scoreboard to those fans so you won't miss anything.

The West Balcony is also on the 300 level and includes some bar stool seating. Beneath this are the Blue Seats, which are actually dubbed the 400 level. Note that the top couple of rows here do not have good views of the scoreboard due to the West Balcony blocking the view.

Finally, there is a lounge area dubbed the "EIGHTEEN/76 Balcony" on the east side of the Bridge level, with direct views into the arena bowl. The seats here are very plush indeed, but reserved for ticketholders, although you can find seats here on the secondary market on occasion.

Getting out of the arena can be the trickiest part of all, especially if you are at the top. The escalators are shut off and people slowly tramp down several flights, stopping at each level as more fans pile on. Try the staircases for a slightly quicker trip down or wait a few minutes to let crowds peter out.

Return on Investment    4

Rangers' tickets are not cheap, and with New York attracting tourists from all over the world, even the secondary market can be overpriced. However, for the less popular games, there will be tickets available from secondary vendors or at the box office. Prices range from $50 for the 400 levels, which are usually sold out, to $245 down low. The Bridges are $110, which might be the best value, while the upper 200 level is $75. These prices are without service charges and for a less attractive opponent, when the Devils or Flyers come to town you can expect to pay a bit more.

Tickets and food definitely cost a lot, but the experience is one of the best in the league and worth splurging if you are a visitor to New York.

Extras    5

One thing that is not forgotten is the history that has transpired here and at the previous incarnations of the Garden. There are two excellent tributes that appear throughout the building. The first is Madison Square Garden's "20 Defining Moments," where each moment is commemorated with a special exhibit that features photos and memorabilia. See if you can find all 20 (not that they are hidden, they are scattered about the Madison and Garden Concourses).

Meanwhile, "Garden 366" is a visual retrospective wrapping the circumference of the Madison Concourse, featuring one moment in Garden history for every day of the year.

Another point for the iconic Garden ceiling that has been gloriously restored.

GardenVision is the new, state-of-the-art scoreboard which has mini-scoreboards underneath so that fans sitting low don't have to crane their necks looking up, a nice touch.

There is free Wi-Fi throughout the building and it is by far the fastest I have experienced at any sporting venue. There are also wireless charging hotspots along the 200 level, which require a case available at any MSG store.

Finally, a point for including personal TV screens along the first row of the two hundred level, an unusual perk for what is otherwise a normal seat.

Final Thoughts

The New York Rangers are an Original Six team with nearly 90 years of history behind them. Despite their relative lack of success with only four championships in that time, their true fans are passionate and interesting. Many are unhappy with the new Garden, partially due to the increased security and prices, but this doesn't mean you should avoid it. Simply be aware of the limitations when entering and exiting and budget accordingly for food and tickets and you will have an enjoyable evening at the Garden.

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Crowd Reviews

The World's Most Famous Arena

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 3

Originally built in 1968, Madison Square Garden is steeped in history and tradition. The venue has
hosted shows, concerts, famous boxing matches, NBA Finals, and Stanley Cup Playoffs while serving as the home of the New York Rangers and New York Knicks.

Located on top of Penn Station, "The Garden" sits right in the heart of Manhattan. The stadium holds 18,200 people for hockey games - most of which are diehard Ranger fans.

The Rangers have been around since 1926 and were one of the "Original Six" NHL teams. However, being a Ranger fan has been quite a challenge. The team stresses "Ranger Pride," but the franchise has only won two Stanley Cups in the last 70 years.

The "Blueshirts" are approaching 2,500 victories as a franchise, and the theme of the "New York Legacy" is still alive.

In summer 2011, The Garden underwent a series of renovations that will take three offseasons and cost nearly $850 million. It's one of the older arenas in the league, so these renovations are much needed. The first step was brand new first-level seating which was completed before opening night.

The next stages of construction will further add to the appeal of the legendary Madison Square Garden.

Madison Square Garden, Home of the New York Rangers

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

Madison Square Garden is a legendary arena. It has been host to the New York Rangers, Knicks, Democratic National Convention, Republican National Convention, legendary concerts and boxing events and so much more. There have been several versions of the Garden around the island of Manhattan. The current edition was opened February 11th, 1968 and was built on top of Pennsylvania ("Penn") Station.

Transportation to the Garden is relatively easy depending on where you come from. MSG is located between 31st and 33rd streets and 7th and 8th avenues. If you choose to drive to the Garden from Long Island or Queens, the Queens Midtown tunnel will let you out on 34th street where there is plenty of parking nearby. The Lincoln Tunnel coming from New Jersey empties onto 34th street. Parking for a Rangers game usually costs about $40 for the night.

As you make your way through the concourse there is a steady bustle of enthusiastic, stereotypical New Yorkers. These Rangers fans, most of whom are diehards, make their way inside. If you have "Club" seats, there are entries from 31st and 33rd streets. This separate entry allows you an express route into the building and access to the Play by Play sports bar and restaurant, as well as The Club, a higher end restaurant. Here, you can dine before heading upstairs to your seats.

If you're fortunate enough to have skybox seats, there is a private elevator outside the Play by Play restaurant. An attendant waits to double check your ticket before heading upstairs. Once you head up the private elevator, there is a balcony area and attendant to escort you to your box. The boxes are stocked with a full bar (beers, vodkas, rums, cordials, etc.), as well as your own buffet-style finger food selection consisting of hot dogs, waffle fries, chicken fingers, cookies, and M&M's. Each suite has its own bathroom and two TV's. Views from the skybox are excellent. There is no worry of fans standing up in front of you, and no play along the boards missed. If you have the ability to experience a skybox, it's an excellent experience.

The Mecca

Total Score: 4.43

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 4

It doesn't get much better than basketball at Madison Square Garden, but hockey will do as well. The location is amazing, and the fans are insanely passionate about their team.

The World's Most Famous Arena

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 5
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

They call Madison Square Garden “The World’s Most Famous Arena” and that description is an apt one. Whereas New York’s other professional sporting venues are scattered throughout the five boroughs, Madison Square Garden is located right in the nexus of the universe, on top of one of the country’s busiest train stations and less than eight blocks from Times Square.

The Garden is a busy place with more events each year than any other arena in the country, yet the longest-standing tenant is the New York Rangers hockey club. The current Garden is actually the fourth such building to bear the name (and the second not to actually be located at Madison Square, the small park at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd St.) The Rangers have called the third Garden, and now the current Garden home since 1926.

Built in 1968, Madison Square Garden is now the oldest arena in the NHL, nipping nearby Nassau Coliseum by four years. Yet the Garden has the look and feel of a newer building. The Cablevision company, which owns the arena, the Rangers, and the Knicks, has invested a fortune into the building, with the last round of major renovations set to proceed over the summer of 2013. Over the past two off-seasons, the seats and concourses have been modernized and the amenities at the Garden are indistinguishable from a newer building.

went pre-upgrade

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

an ok place from what i remember ...game again was a blowout ...Rangers 6-1 Avalanche (if you read my other reviews i have alot of them)

brilliant atmosphere though and easy to get to...food and drink was good from what i remember ...was my first ever night in the states so the jetlag was setting in late in the 3rd.

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