MSG transforms arena with ‘Garden 366’

Madison Square Garden is in the midst of a three-year, top to bottom transformation process that will distinguish the sports and entertainment complex as the “world’s most iconic and famous arena.”

With reconfigured seating in the upper bowl of the arena; larger, more comfortable seats; additional restrooms and retail locations, 18 completely remodeled suites, state of the art center-hung scoreboard and restoration of the ceiling, the new and improved venue will likely be transformed to one of the most envied in the nation.

However, those are only part of the enhancements to a complete transformation.

Recently, Hank Ratner, president and CEO of MSG Company unveiled two unique exhibits that personify the 133-year history of the arena and also add to the reformation of the city’s most accommodating institution.

From MSG’s first location at 23rd St. & Broadway, Ratner introduced “Garden 366” and “Defining Moments,” two visual commemoratives to launch the second phase of the three-year construction makeover.

First, Ratner introduced 10 of 20 defining moments from a leap year total of significant events staged at Manhattan’s most acclaimed complex.

“Over the last 133 years, the Garden has played host to some of the most memorable moments in sports, entertainment and politics and it was important to us that we celebrate and honor this unparalleled history by capturing these incredible moments as part of the transformed Garden.”

Amplified with the presence of world Hall of Fame wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper; former N.Y. Knicks Walt “Clyde” Frazier, New York Liberty WNBA player Kym Hampton; former CCNY standout college players Floyd Layne and Ron Nadell; the sons of boxers Sugar Ray Robinson and Gene Tunney; Stanley Cup winning hockey players Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Rod Gilbert and Brian Leetch; former boxing world boxing champion Bernard “the Executioner” Hopkins; Beastie Boys founder Mike D and hip-hop music legend Daryll Mc Daniels of Run DMC, another defining moment seemed eminent.

“MSG put hip-hop on the map,” Mc Daniels said. “When Run DMC played the Garden, it was the first time hip-hop had ever been in the Garden.”

Seemingly transported back in time, the legendary rapper related how excited and delighted he and his two collaborators Run (Joseph Simmons) and DJ Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell) felt on Aug. 17, 1987.

“It was the best of the best,” he added.

He said the trio wore a very unpopular brand of sneakers.

“That night I took off my ‘didas and held it in the air and the entire crowd did too.”

The trio then performed “My Adidas,” a song that landed them a $1.6 million endorsement deal. It is also regarded classic rap.

“After that we became the first non-athletic act to endorse sneakers. Thank you MSG.”

Jamaica-born Ewing provided reminiscences of his championship-winning game against Indiana Pacers. He recalled the dunk that clinched the game and how he jumped on a table, showing off his number 33, and embraced the fans at MSG.

Starks reflected on his May 25, 1993 game against the Chicago Bulls. He could not help laughing through the nostalgia of driving a left-handed tomahawk slam dunk that upset Michael Jordan. Jordan, he said gave him a look that he has not forgotten.

“Everyone plays their best game at the Garden.”

Former Governor Cuomo revealed a long kept secret about being signed to a baseball contract by Branch Rickey. According to the three-term state leader, Rickey offered him more than he paid Mickey Mantle.

Cuomo, a student at St. John’s Prep was signed for a whopping $2,000. The year after baseball, legend Mantle yielded $1,100.

That revelation merited a hearty chuckle.

Married 58 years, the 52nd governor of the state reminisced about his athletic rendezvous before entering politics. His speech was engaging and nostalgic.

Harking back to a period when unemployment was a full three points higher than the now 7.8 percent national figure; crack, AIDS and HIV he said, were new concerns.

He explained his defining moment at MSG resonated when he introduced the individual who emerged the next president of the United States.

“I would love to be in the arena when it dazzles the world,” he said about the improved conditions to the world-class facility.

“All countries seek to identify themselves with a building, the new arena will be that building,” Cuomo added.

With dated, daily displays of defining sports, entertainment, political and other significant events held at MSG, photos, artifacts and graphics will commemorate amazing and historic moment in MSG history.

A few of the 366 significant events of the exhibit include:

July 13, 1992 — Governor Mario Cuomo introduces Arkansas governor and Democratic presidential candidate William J. Clinton at their political party’s national convention. Clinton defeated George H. Bush that year and became the 42nd president of the United States.

Aug. 13, 1920 — Marcus Garvey leads a convention for members of his UNIA. At the packed venue he introduced the official Pan-African black, red and green flag.

Sept. 10, 2001 — Michael Jackson performs at his 30th anniversary concert. It was his very last public concert. That defining date also marked the eve of America’s worst terror tragedy.

Oct. 31, 1936 — President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared at a rally before re-election.

Nov. 22, 1993 — Knicks basketball player John Starks scores seven three-pointers in a half against the Heat.

Dec. 1, 1990 — Knicks center, Patrick Ewing scores 50 points in 113-96 win against the Hornets.

The visual retrospective brings to life moment in MSG history for every day of the year and will wrap the entire circumference of the arena.

Graphically appealing, it will create a visual calendar of the rich history spanning sports, music, entertainment, and politics.

Now that the first of 20 were unveiled, the remaining significant moments will be integrated into the 8th floor MSG concourse exhibit next year.

“Whether a fan wants to discover what happened on their birthday, recall events they attended over the years or learn about all the magical garden moments, we believe with the Garden 366’ and defining Moments’ exhibits – that we have successfully created what will become a special destination for all fans who visit.”

“Over time, as more memorable moments continue to occur, these exhibits will be updated to include the next great moment that happens at the world’s most famous arena,” Ratner stated.

Other enhanced construction to the arena include: A new expanded concourse that will include city views, new first-class food and beverage options, 58 new Madison level suites which will remain open throughout the 2012-13 season, the Madison Club will be a new all-inclusive, exclusive membership-only club that will include tickets to Knicks, Rangers, college basketball, boxing, tennis and all other sports events held at MSG and a new 10th floor fan deck.

Catch You On The Inside!