NEW YORK – After three years and $1 billion, Madison Square Garden has been remade.
The home of the NBA's Knicks and NHL's Rangers has been updated for the realities of sports in the 21st century.
That means there's no shortage of luxury suites and premium seating, and sponsorships are helping pay for it all. The most striking aspect of the renovation, however, is the presence of two "bridges" that fly high above the seating bowl, almost scraping the arena's familiar wagon-wheel ceiling.
The bridges perch fans in what used to be empty air over the seating bowl. There are bars and new concession areas at either end.
They obstruct views of the new, larger video board for fans in the upper rows of the cheap seats, but have video screens of their own on the back.
Among the luminaries on hand to help MSG open its showpiece was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who quipped that what made him happiest is that MSG used no public money for the renovation.
"As a boy from Queens, how cool is today?" the governor said, sharing a stage with Willis Reed and Mark Messier, who played central roles in some of the arena's biggest moments.
Fans will get their first look at the bridges, and everything else, on Friday when the arena re-opens with a preseason Knicks game.
While the bridges are very much a modern feature — and a nod to the many bridges that knit New York City's boroughs together — the arena also plans to acknowledge its own history. The concourses feature memorabilia and photos of "defining moments" throughout the arena's history, and two ground-level corridors have been restored to look as they did when the building opened in 1968.
The updates also include adding restrooms and concessions and replacing the old aqua and magenta seats with a subdued navy blue.