• Lloyd Brown

Madison Square Garden – New York Rangers

Stadium Info

Madison Square Garden 4 Pennsylvania Plaza New York, NY 10001

New York Rangers website

Madison Square Garden website

Year Opened: 1968

Capacity: 18,200


A Venue for All Seasons

Madison Square Garden (MSG) is often called “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” It is hard to argue with that assessment when you look at the history, the event schedule and the landmark games and sports events that have taken place at the venue in Midtown Manhattan.

The current Madison Square Garden is the fourth in a line of sports facilities that have gone by the same name in the Big Apple. The present arena opened in 1968 and is built on top of the Penn Station transportation hub. It is often known simply as “MSG” or “The Garden” by locals. We will use MSG for brevity’s sake. It is truly a venue for all seasons, as it hosts both the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks, boxing matches, the Big East basketball tournament, the NIT basketball finals, several WWE wrestling extravaganzas and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The WNBA New York Liberty played there through 2017. Madison Square Garden is presently the oldest arena still in use in both the NBA and the NHL. It is also the last NBA/NHL facility not named for a corporate sponsor. MSG owns both the Rangers and the Knicks.

The New York Rangers have been one of the venue’s major tenants since 1968. MSG has hosted two Stanley Cup Finals since opening, with the team winning its first Stanley Cup in more than 50 years in 1994. The team has also won four President’s Cups in its history, representing the best record at the end of the regular hockey season. It has also hosted two NHL All Star Games in that period. The venue holds 18,006 in its hockey configuration. Amongst the Ranger greats who have plied their trade on the MSG ice are Brian Leetch, Rod Gilbert, Adam Graves, Mark Messier, Jean Ratelle and Mike Richter. Future Hall of Famer goalie Henrik Lundqvist is the longtime pillar of the current Rangers squad. Fifty former Rangers are now in the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame.

Food & Beverage 4

MSG has created a very diverse menu of food and beverage offerings, from chef-driven outlets to simple hot dog stands. Among the designer options are Hill Country Barbeque Market, Sausage Boss and the Carnegie Deli.

Here is a breakdown of your food options based on which concourse your seats are on:

  • Madison Concourse – Bar at the Garden, Casa Nona Pizza, Chicken and Fries, Farley’s Pub, the Garden Market, Simply Chicken, Simply Tacos. Sausage Boss and Uncle Jack’s Steak Sandwiches.

  • Garden Concourse – Same outlets as above, plus Dunkin Donuts and Kelvin Natural Frozen Drinks

  • Chase Bridge Level – Bar at the Garden, the Bridge Pub, Casa Nona Pizza, Chicken and Fries, Daily Burger and The Garden Market.

Prices of the concessions at MSG are comparable with prices for the same types of items at other NHL venues.

Atmosphere 5

You will realize you are in a special place before you even enter the MSG building. Its sheer size dwarfs the exteriors of the other venues in the NHL and NBA.

Once inside the building you will begin to feel the history of the structure. The lobby of the Chase Square features metal plates embedded in the floor saluting major events and famous figures that made history in the building. Madison Square Garden underwent the most expensive renovation of an existing sports venue ever ($1.07 billion) over a two-year period to bring the building into the 21st century, while honoring its past. Once you enter the concourses you will note a timeline of the arena’s history, along with landmark events, called Defining Moments, such as the first Ali-Frazier fight and the Rangers Stanley Club win in 1994. There are numerous exhibits featuring photos and memorabilia from the various teams that have called MSG home.

Upon entering the seating bowl, your eyes will be drawn to the rafters, where banners hang for the Rangers four Stanley Cup Championships in their existence, as well as the nine jersey numbers retired by the team. You will also notice the iconic cable supported metal roof of the arena, which sets it apart from more current arenas. Other elements that will catch your eye are the 28’ x 57’ center hung scoreboard and ribbon boards that encircle the arena. MSG also features the Chase Bridges which cross over the ice from the top of the seating bowl, giving you a unique vantage point for the game action.

The seating bowl is divided into four main levels. They are arranged into sections of 100, 200, 300 and 400 levels. These do not include the 96 suites found in the Club level of the facility. There are two separate concourses encircling the seating bowl. The lower bowl concourse is located on the 6th floor of the building and is known as the Madison Concourse, while the upper level concourse is known as the Garden Concourse and is located on the 7th floor of the building.

Neighborhood 5

Madison Square Garden is centrally located in Midtown Manhattan, which gives you a multitude of activities to enjoy both before and after the games. If you don’t want to walk, a cab or taxi can get you to many interesting sites very quickly. Among the interesting sites are the flagship Macy’s at Herald Square, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and Times Square/Broadway. One of the more popular activities is to take an On Location Tour, which transports you to locations featured in your favorite TV shows and movies, including the Sopranos, Seinfeld and When Harry Met Sally.

Hotels within walking distance of MSG include the Fairfield Inn Penn Station, the New Yorker and the Courtyard NY at Herald Square. Restaurants near MSG are the Sbarro NY Style Pizza, Best Bagel and District Tap House.

Fans 4

The New York Rangers fans are amongst the most loyal in the NHL. The group as a whole fall into a classification known as “Rangerstown” and are easily identified by the sea of blue jerseys in the stands at each home game. The fans stuck with the team through its 54 -year drought between Stanley Cup Championships. They help sellout MSG no matter who the opponent is and travel well to voice their support at the arenas of their most bitter rivals (Flyers, Islanders and the Devils).

They also are students of the game, as they debate strategy during the game, and often will analyze why an opponent scored a goal. It’s not about criticizing the boys in blue, but merely looking for ways to make the team better.

Two favorite cheers of the Rangerstown crows are “Let’s Go Ran-gers” and the Goal song of “Hey, Hey Hey” after each Rangers goal.

Access 5

Manhattan is known for heavy traffic, lack of parking and reliance on public transportation. Fortunately, one of the largest public transportation hubs in the world lies directly beneath MSG. Penn Station offers services via AMTRAK, the Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, the NYC subway system, PATH and the NYC bus system. This makes it very easy for fans to reach the games at MSG. In addition, taxis and shared ride services are available immediately outside of the building.

The 2011-2013 renovations focused a great deal on improving accessibility inside the building. This included the widening of the concourses by up to two to three times their past width and the doubling of the size of the Chase Square entry lobby, a main gathering point in the building. Restrooms were increased by 50% to decrease the lines and additional food service locations were also added. The renovations greatly enhanced the accessibility of the current building.

Return on Investment 3

One of the few drawbacks to enjoying any activities in the Big Apple is the dent it will put in your pocketbook. Transportation costs can be held down significantly by using public transportation, (Just try to avoid rush hour when the subways and trains have you packed in like sardines.) Ticket prices for Rangers games are significantly higher than other NHL markets. Expect to pay $145 for a 400 level seat, $195 for a 300 level seat, $181 for a 200 level seat and $235 for a 100 level seats. (These are standard venue prices… not secondary market prices.) Try to avoid games involving the NJ Devils, NY Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers as they are rivalry games and command premium prices. Hotels around Madison Square Garden charge in the $250 range per night range (plus taxes).

Extras 4

Did you ever wonder why the hockey team is named the Rangers? In 1926, MSG President G.I. “Tex” Rickard wanted to put together an expansion hockey team to compete against the New York Americans. He hired NHL pioneer Conn Smythe to go out and find the best players available from throughout the USA and Canada. The team of all stars were immediately successful, and the NY media coined them as “Tex’s Rangers.” The name obviously has stuck.

MSG is the second busiest music venue in the world, trailing only the 02 Arena in London. Billy Joel holds the record for most concerts in the building, followed closely by Elton John. John Lennon performed his last public concert at MSG just weeks before his death.

Michael Jackson performed at The Garden on September 10, 2001, the night before the 9/11 attack.

Construction of the present Madison Square Garden was very controversial at the time, as it required the demolition of the Penn Station surface level building, which was an architectural masterpiece. This directly led to the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which has saved many significant structures, including Grand Central Station, from the wrecking ball.

The future of the current MSG has been in doubt, as it operates on a 10-year lease for the air rights above Penn Station. Penn Station is one of the busiest transportation hubs in the world and needs to expand. There have been suggestions that this would require MSG to move to yet another location. However, in 2016 a compromise was struck that would require the removal of the Theatre at MSG for Penn Station expansion but would leave the sports arena intact.

Final Thoughts

A visit to Madison Square is much more than just a trip to a hockey game. It is a visit to a place filled with history and tradition, but it is also a facility that offers excellent amenities to make your fan experience as enjoyable as possible.

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