After three years of renovating the Garden at an overall cost of $968M, the idea of the Knicks and Rangers basically being evicted from its 45-year old residence is almost unimaginable, but if officials have their way the unimaginable could become reality in a mere decade.
Especially after the city council, spurred on by mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and others, had a 47 to 1 vote to extend the Garden’s special operating permit for only 10 more years sending folks into a frenzy.
I find it hard to believe that a shrewd businessman such as James Dolan investing so much into that building just to quietly walk away without a fight, but if the Garden had to go, it wouldn’t be the first time.
From 1879 to 1925 Madison Square Garden was actually located at 23rd street between 5th & Broadway before a third Garden was opened on 8th Ave between 49th & 50th street, from 1925 to 1968. The 4th and current Garden was then opened in 1968, so the idea of relocating isn’t as farfetched or taboo as one would believe.
But to sacrifice the “The World’s Most Famous Arena” for the benefit of upgrading an already fully functional Penn Station seems so cold and misguided. It is the Garden that has stood as the beacon of hope when the city recovered from the unthinkable September 11th attacks, or most recent, the devastating Hurricane Sandy Storm. Those same walls that has served to lift the spirits of so many has also been the site of some of the biggest and most polarizing events, none more memorable than “The Fight”, Ali-Frazier I, Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, so affectionately known as “The Willis Reed” game, and who can forget the Rangers capturing the 1994 Stanley Cup.
For further evidence of the building’s unparalleled greatness, one only needs to walk the Garden’s concourses, which are beautifully strategically decorated with decades of rich history, to understand that Madison Square Garden has truly lived up to its moniker as “The World’s Most Famous Arena”.
For all it has meant to the city,MSG deserves a much better fate than just an eviction notice equivalent to a death sentence. It deserves landmark recognition and protection from self-serving politicians that will allow for the next generation of Knicks fans to walk through the doors of 4 Penn Plaza @ 33rd street & 7th Avenue. The only Garden I have ever known or want to know.