When you're in New York City, you're in the entertainment capital. When you want to see a basketball game live there's no place like the mecca. I'm talking about the "The World's Most Famous Arena" aka Madison Square Garden.
The Garden draws people from all over the World. In 2011, the building started under going a major renovation which will transform the whole experience of seeing basketball and other forms of entertainment for many years to come. The process is in the first phase. There will be two more phases over the next two years before the transformation is completed that will face lift the venue.
Since I've lived here all my life I've been privileged to have seen around 1,000 basketball and hockey games combined as well as concerts and other events at Madison Square Garden.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The choices of eateries nowadays at the Garden have been expanded. They include the traditional classics like hot dogs, burgers, chicken and pizza to the diversity of sushi, lobster shrimp rolls, barbecue, kosher food, as well as organic and gluten free offerings for the health conscious. In addition, they also have a few stands that serve Corned Beef and Pastrami sandwiches from the Carnegie Deli, which are stacked high and I strongly suggest you have an empty stomach and/or you share with your family or friends. Furthermore, they have a number of bars on the newly expanded concourse on the 100 level.
When you attend a Knicks game, the building is usually electric. Unlike most modern arenas, the crowd is always into the game without being necessarily prodded on. The seating bowl has been changed downstairs so now there are more seats that are closer together which creates an even more intimate setting. With the Knicks playing better in recent years, the team feeds off the fans. New Yorkers have a reputation of being fickle at times. When the team does well, they're right behind them. When that happens, the stage is second to none. If the product on the court isn't at its best, people get entertained by the Knicks City Dancers as well as by the 7th Avenue Squad who shoot t-shirts into the crowd and they also pump up the spectators during timeouts.
The location of the Garden is as good as it gets. The building sits atop New York Penn Station which gives MSG a distinct advantage for people to get to. You can come by car which, I would strongly recommend against, because parking is very limited and its extremely pricey. You can take the subway, Amtrak, NJ Transit, taxi or you can walk if you're staying in Manhattan. With Times Square a short walk away you have endless options of outside restaurants and bars that cater to all different people and budgets.
New Yorkers can be the biggest front runners in all of sports. It's the media capital of the world so they like to lead people to believe that New Yorkers are the greatest fans on the planet. That's true when their team is winning. The idea that fans are better when the team is doing well is true everywhere you go, but here it's magnified that much more in New York. Knicks fans are a great example of that principle. The fans who attend games these days are mostly corporate and/or tourists. There are some people who have been going there for many years. Since I've gone there for the past 30 years, I've seen many familiar faces come and go.
While the location of the Garden is second to none, it comes with some drawbacks. Like many places here in NYC, space is very limited. When you go in and out of the Garden, your patience is always put to the test. The gates usually open an hour before the game starts. With that being said, everybody can't wait to get in. I strongly suggest that you wait 10-15 minutes before you head in. By doing so, you should have no problem getting in. The mob scene disappears and you can proceed in like a human being.
After the game, it can be difficult to get out especially if the game goes down to the wire. There are stairways that people don't realize exist. Most people head towards the escalators that are normally turned off after the game so people don't get trampled. I strongly suggest you pack your patience. Take your time and just enjoy a few extra minutes in this historic building.
Not everybody is like me. Even if they live here they don't get to take in the Garden experience for one reason or another. Those who are fortunate to go to the Garden can also say they went to the World's Most Famous Arena. The history alone is a great reason to come. With all the new added amenities, the experience is only getting better. If you have had the opportunity to do so, come see for yourself.
Customer service is a top priority at the Garden. They have people in the lobby area to assist people who have questions and/or need help to enhance their experience.
The addition of the West Balcony, which was added on the top on the building on the 8th Avenue end, gives people a great aerial view of the action. They have a few rows of seats and a row of bar stools for people to get a different perspective of the game. They have a bar and concession stands there for their customers' convenience.
Check back as the transformation continues to take shape. The Garden will only continue to be the place to go for entertainment if and when you're in New York City.
**Gary Herman is the "Prince" of stadium travel. Check out his constant stadium journeys at Royalty Tours USA.
I always look forward to a great time when I watch the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the "World's Most Famous Arena." Truly an iconic place, MSG has hosted some of the most exciting events in the world.
The arena always provides fans with an upbeat and pleasant experience, but it's the team that can sometimes fall short of expectations.
The renovations have turned MSG from a pain to a pleasure. Widened concourses, friendly staff, new seats, monitors, the west balcony, and of course the best location in the world.
Sure tickets are expensive but that's supply and demand. Getting in and out will always be a pain and Knick fans can be annoying, but ultimately MSG is worth the hassle. Celebrities in the courtside seats add an element of intrigue and the daily anniversary display that surrounds the inner concourse is unique. If you've yet to see MSG, do it now. If you've seen it before, time to revisit as the new Garden is not the same as the old Garden.
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