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New Madison Square Garden Looking To Out-Perk All Other Arenas

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Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

"For the 2013 Draft, the New York Knicks select MSG to be Number One."

If every New Yorkers been good for Christmas, come 2013, they just might get to watch LeBron James do a high-flying 360 dunk underneath their feet. At least that’s the idea once all the new renovations for Madison Square Garden are complete. Construction will feature the requisite upgrades in concourse decks and concession stands, but the pièce de résistance will be the two huge skywalks suspended above the fans and the court. Clearly the owners are going all-out as a preemptive strike against the Russian bajillionaire moving in next door.

However, if you’re going to go big in your own home, it takes more than just putting cash into luxury boxes. If the owners want to make a true spectacle they’d do well to study their neighbors. Take for instance Yankee Stadium, which might as well be called Times Square Bronx with its multitude of shops, bars, and restaurants. The place isn’t all just beers, hot dogs, and t-shirts, though. The arena also sports an art gallery, a museum, and -- grocery shopping? Turns out the stadium has its own version of a farmer’s market and a butcher shop in Lobel’s, where you can purchase fresh pears and racks of USDA graded meat. It's the second largest butcher shop in the Bronx next to the 2010 Yankees' bullpen. Zing!

But you don’t need a big concept for a stadium. Sometimes it’s all in the details. If you’re going to redo an arena you can start with the worst feature of all, the bathrooms. That’s what Argentina's national head case World Cup head coach Diego Maradona did when he demanded two state-of-the-art bidet toilets installed at the High Performance Center in Pretoria. The center serves as base camp for Argentina’s soccer team, so Maradona insisted the bathrooms meet his high standards - even if that meant completely overhauling the bathroom and reinstalling the heated toilet seats, valued at 311-euro a throne.

Of course, not all stadiums were built around the crazed personal whims of an individual. Some were designed to save the world, or at least keep the stadium lights running green. The World Games Stadium in Kaohsiung has a roof that stretches 14,155 square meters and generates 1.4 gigawatt hours of electricity. Even when the stadium isn’t in use, the solar panels transfer the energy to the surrounding neighborhood. Not even Magic and Kareem’s Lakers could generate that much electricity.

If you're bereft of ideas, the easiest route would be to follow the standard real estate maxim: location, location, location. As in, just put it in the water. The Marina Bay Floating Stadium in Singapore is the world's largest floating stage. It's composed of 15 pontoons interlocked like jigsaw puzzles in case the arena needs to be moved or reassembled. Pentagram soccer anyone?

But for sheer awe-inspiring spectacle, few stadiums can match the Braga Municipal Stadium in Portugal. Carved from the side of a rock quarry, this Rushmore of an arena is partly inspired by South American Inca design, and has an underground plaza allowing for the entirety of the crowd to migrate underneath the pitch. Finally, a European stadium that's volcanic ash-proof.