One of our favorite aspects of the massive construction going on at Madison Square Garden is that all MSG employees have been ordered not to refer to it as a "renovation," but a "transformation." They're quite serious about this. If you say "renovation" around them, they immediately gently correct you: "transformation." One told us they even have a "tip jar" for fines for anyone who accidentally says "renovation." They always stay on message at the Garden.
The first stage of the three-summer project is about halfway complete, and various reporters yesterday were invited to go check out how it's going. We're not so sure they got all that much information that wasn't already available: Mostly they sat and looked at a ton of people with real jobs building things. They were handed press releases and given pictures of what the place is going to look like when Phase One is ready. That's supposed to be in October, in time for the NBA season to start. (Ha, no, really, that's when it's supposed to start.)
There were two news items we took away from yesterday's tour, one of which will make you happy and the other of which will make you remember why the rest of the world hates us.
First, the good item: According to Alan Hahn of Newsday, the blue seats are back!
Once the transformation is complete in the fall of 2013, the entire Garden will have changed. And Garden executives revealed one historical touch Thursday: Roughly one thousand upper-bowl seats will revert to their original blue color, immortalized by Rangers fans throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The upper bowl will be finished in time for the 2012-13 season, and the final touches — a completely renovated Seventh Avenue lobby, a new fan deck on the 10th floor and a state-of-the-art GardenVision scoreboard — will be the last summer's work.
So, with those upper-level blue seats, fans will get crazy again! (If they can afford to take out a second mortgage, anyway)
Then, the "ugh, man, have you looked at ANY headline recently?" quote, from ESPN New York's piece. Hank Ratner, MSG's president and CEO, did some boasting about all the hyper-expensive seats, in a way that would even make the Yankees Legends Suites purveyors blush:
Madison Square Garden's new 20 event-level suites, which will be unveiled officially at the end of October when the arena reopens after massive renovations, are already sold out. As part of the upgraded lower-bowl concourse, the suites are actually right on top of the ice (for Rangers games) and eight rows back from the court (for Knicks games) — a world away from being located above the 400 level. Hank Ratner, President and Chief Executive Officer of MSG, couldn't disclose the tenant names or price points except to say, "It's the who's who of corporate America."
He was totally proud of that. We suppose he should be, a fiddler while Rome burns. But hey, there's a walkway above the court!