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Madison Square Garden

March 26, 2023

  • 4 Pennsylvania Plaza
  • New York, NY 10001
  • (212) 465-6741
  • Website

I’m not gonna lie.  When I found out part of my trip to New York would include going to Madison Square Garden, I was pumped.  

I grew up during the 90’s when the Chicago Bulls were the best team in basketball.  Being an hour from Chicago, everyone was a Bulls fan.  Everyone loved Michael Jordan.  That’s just the way things were in my small, rural farming community.  We gathered at night in someone’s driveway or at the basketball courts at the city park and all pretended we were the Bulls.  

The Bulls biggest rival during that era was the New York Knicks.  We hated the Knicks.  I remember throwing my walkman at the wall after the Knicks won Game 2 of the 1993 NBA Eastern Conference Finals at the Garden when John Starks dunked over Michael Jordan sealing a Knicks victory and  giving the Knicks a 2-0 lead in the series (more on that later).  It was well after my bedtime and I wasn’t supposed to be listening to the game…I gave myself away when the walkman bounced off the wall scaring the crap out of my parents who were sleeping right below me.  

Everyone has a MSG story.  We’ve all watched several events that have happened there.  I’ve watched dozens of WWF/E matches on TV originating from the Garden…always wishing I was there in person…and I finally got my chance to check out “The World’s Most Famous Arena.”

The current Madison Square Garden is the fourth arena in New York City to bear this name.  It stands between 7th and 8th Avenues in Manhattan between 31st and 33rd Streets.  It stands above Penn Station in Midtown.  When the Garden was built in the 1960’s, the above ground portions of Penn Station were demolished.  The trains still run underneath the Garden and there are entrances right next to the arena entrances.  There was so much foot traffic going to the trains and to the Moynihan Train Hall across the street, it was really hard to see who was there for the event at the Garden and who was just going home.  

You enter Madison Square Garden at street level but the event level is actually on the 5th floor. Once inside, you have to go up just to get to the playing surface. There is a maze of stairs, escalators, and elevators once you get inside. If you need the ADA entrance though, you need to go to an entrance next to Entrance A at the corner of 8th Avenue and 33rd Street. You can also get in at the Chase Square Entrance on 7th Street. You can tell this building was built way before the American’s With Disabilities Act. I’ve been having some knee problems lately and stairs are not easy right now. Finding a way to the 5th wasn’t super easy.

Like any arena, there are several levels of seating. I stopped on the 8th Floor first which is the main concourse level. The concourses are a little narrow and are broken up by pillars.

There are concessions stands all over the concourses. There a huge variety of food ranging from the typical stadium fare to a carved meat station to Nashville Hot Chicken and anything in between.

Madison Square Garden is full of history and they know it. All throughout the concourses there are displays with memorabilia…ticket stubs, photos, jersey’s, uniforms….keeping that history alive. It’s not just the sporting events but the concerts, wrestling shows, boxing matches, and any other event of interest that has happened in the Gardens almost 60 year history. Of course, the first one I run in to is “The Dunk”….which I talked about earlier in this post.

Right next to the display case is a plaque describing the event on display… of course, I had to relive that awful moment and the loss of my walkman by reading about John Stark’s dunk over Michael Jordan.

In addition to these displays, there are rings running around the top of the concourse area for some of the smaller but still notable events that have happened over the years.

The seating bowl is not open to the concourse on this level. You have to walk down a short hallway to get to a set of stairs that takes you up in to the arena itself.

I didn’t have a ticket for this section but I still had to get a look. I walked up during play knowing the usher would stop me. When I got to the top of the stairs I just kind of stopped and soaked it all in. This is Madison Square Garden.

After a moment, I ruined the moment by looking up and seeing all the Knicks retired jersey and championship banners.

I talked to the usher for a few minutes and he let me stay there and watch a little bit of the game. I didn’t want to be in the way so I took the escalator up one more level.

The 200 level is pretty similar to the 100 level but the concourse is a little narrower. There isn’t quite as many bump outs here for seating areas and extra concession stands.

The only thing I bought from the concession stand all night was a bottle of Pepsi. It costs $7…but I really wanted that Pepsi.

The seating is a little more open to the concourse on this level…especially in the endzones. There are no stairs up here, you walk right to the aisle and go down to your seats. Along the sides there are suites so you can’t just walk up behind the seating area and stand to see the game. In the ends, there were no suites so that was actually something you could do. There are bar areas in the ends and some pub tables that looked to be open for the taking.

That was as far up as I made it. I just grabbed my Pepsi and enjoyed the game.

I am so grateful I got to experience Madison Square Garden. When my brother found out I was going, he told me that was one of his bucket list stadiums. I think it’s kind of everyone’s bucket list stadiums. It isn’t the newest stadium. It doesn’t have all the cool amenities or as much room as some of it’s competitors in other cities. But just like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park, it’s a stadium you need to experience at least once. It’s such a cool place and filled with so much history.

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