NEW YORK -- After three years of construction, Madison Square Garden unveiled its $1 billion renovation Thursday.
The "Transformation" includes two "Chase Bridges" that run high above and parallel to the length of the event floor, a remodeled Chase Square 7th Avenue entrance that features two 600-square-foot video screens on the ceiling, a state-of-the-art GardenVision scoreboard, new suites and food options, and renovated concourses among many upgrades.
"We knew the world's greatest fans deserved a complete state-of-the-art experience," said James Dolan, the Garden's executive chairman. "This true transformation is for everyone. We wanted our athletes to have upgraded locker rooms, training and video rooms. We wanted our entertainers to have the best dressing rooms, the best sound, the best lighting and acoustics."
The bridges are the most unique addition to the arena. The 10th floor is connected by the two bridges, which are in front of some seating up high and obstruct the view of the new GardenVision scoreboard in some seats. They do not, however, block the view of the court, which can be clearly seen from even the seat at the top of the arena behind a bridge. There also are three 145-inch monitors on each bridge for those who cannot see the scoreboard.
"The question we get asked by everybody who comes up [here] is how can the crowd see the game?" Garden president and CEO Hank Ratner said of the seats behind the bridges. "And you will see that there is not the slightest bit of obstruction to what is going on [down] on the floor. What we did for the people who are sitting there is [put three] 145-inch GardenVision [monitors] on the bridge."
"You will look down and see a view of the playing surface that you have never seen here or have never seen anywhere," Ratner added of the bridges. "Because that viewing angle does not exist in the world until today."
Former Knicks and Rangers captains Willis Reed and Mark Messier were on hand for the unveiling along with several other former players. In addition to hosting Knicks and Rangers home games, concerts and events, the Garden will be home to the upcoming NCAA men's basketball tournament East Regional and the 2015 NBA All-Star Game.
"Madison Square Garden is Madison Square Garden, an institution that began in 1879," Ratner said when asked whether the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn added motivation to the renovation. "It is the standard by which other arenas get measured. There are many other arenas in the marketplace that are peripheral.
"There's lots of business in this market, which is wonderful. The transformation project started long before Barclays. We wish them all the success as we do for Newark, Izod and the Nassau Coliseum. But we think about the Garden, and the Garden holds a special place in people's hearts, and it always will."