A slew of celebrities, athletes, and media members came to Madison Square Garden Thursday morning for the unveiling of the final phase in a three-part, $1 billion renovation of “The World’s Most Famous Arena.” With the venue’s reputation and location, many in attendance were already voicing positive reviews before stepping foot in to The Garden.
“I loved it 40 years ago, and I’m sure I’m going to love it now,” actor Chazz Palminteri told “The Ralphie Show” on the star-studded red carpet prior to the official press conference, which was hosted by MSG Network staple Al Trautwig and attended by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “There’s new amenities but it’s New York. They always do it the right way.”
Perhaps the most talked about of the new features is the Chase Bridge – running parallel with the 31st and 33rd Street sides of the building. The two bridges are suspended 94 feet above the main floor, offering spectators a completely new perspective while also providing a number of dining options, including the MSG Signature Collection. The collection is available throughout the arena; a collaboration between The Garden and some of the area’s top chefs.
“I think so, yeah,” responded filmmaker Ed Burns when I asked if he could watch a game from the bridge. At the time, he had yet to take in the sight for himself. “I’d imagine it would be pretty cool to see it up there.”
Former Knicks forward Larry Johnson was a little less enthusiastic.
“I can’t because my eyes (are) bad,” LJ said. “But, they have a big screen right in front of you, so it’s awesome.”
It seemed for most of the bold-print names in attendance, few knew what to ultimately expect when they would be given a tour of the arena.
“Well, I got to look around and see exactly what they did to my house, because this is my house,” said rapper 50 Cent, before dropping the oh-so-famous line, “I run New York” and flashing a big smile. Now that the artist, born Curtis Jackson, is a boxing promoter as well, we might see a fight card of his before a live performance.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how they could spend $1 billion,” admitted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Julie Henderson, who also noted she usually prefers to sit so close that “the sweat comes on to you.”
But regardless of the new look, new seats, or even new store, perhaps it was Walt Frazier who best summed up what fans are looking forward to with the re-opening of the venue.
“Winning,” Clyde said. “Winning and grinning.”