Pros: Location, Comfy seats, atmosphere, staff, fans, lots to do inside
Cons: The Rangers, Expensive tickets, no ice girls, bathroom design, concession lines, concrete, escalators galore
Only the biggest and most renown city in the world; New York City could hold Madison Square Garden known as the "World's most famous Arena" yet from all the events held here it should be called "The World's most historic Arena" My memories of this place start at the age of seven when my parents took me to see Ringling Barnum & Bailey's circus, and my favorite event here was Wrestlemania XX in 2004. Home to the Knicks, WNBA Lady Liberty, and a scum bag hockey team known as the Rangers it was time to see the NHL's best rivalry at the Garden since I've already seen it at the Coliseum. My New York Islanders against the Rangers on April the 6th of 2006 at 7pm at the Garden with all that said here is the review.
My favorite venue based on location is easily the Garden. Located downtown in bustling Herald Square on 34th street in lower Manhattan you can not miss the Garden. It is amazing to see pictures of but to see in person can take a while as this place has entrances starting at 31st street and going to 34th street. There is plenty to do such as shopping at Macy*s, you have your usual fast food chains such as McDonalds, Wendy's, Burger King, Sbarro's and some upscale eateries, bars, Foot action is there too, so is New York's biggest and only post office open on some holiday's and one can't forget that the Jacob Javits Convention Center which is getting an expansion not too far away from the Garden. Unlike most venues that are located in places where there is no public transportation(Texas Stadium) or the slums(YANKEE STADIUM) this is perhaps the greatest and most ideal downtown location to have an arena.
Lady Liberty tickets are easy to get but good luck with either Knicks or Rangers tickets. This is due to the fact most fans who go to see these teams are business tycoons who know little about sports and have money to throw around. I attended the Rangers game and ticket prices are mind numbing. $634.50 is the top priced ticket, this is for the box seats in what is known as the club level section. These tickets gets you a staffer who takes your order, brings it to the Club restaurant, where another staffer brings it back to you. So from the events start time up until seven minutes of the 3rd period you can order to your pockets delight. Those tickets are mainly reserved for corporations or die hard fans with tons of money and are tough to get. If I spend a hundred plus dollars on a ticket I think everyone else who did too should have the same luxury of having a waiter instead of having to leave your seat, missing the game and waiting in long concession stands is uncalled for.
From there it goes $139.50, $121.50 and $112.50, $63.00, $40.50, and $27.00 those later prices are reserved for section 100 through mezzanine or nose bleeders in the 400 section. I had a $112.50 box seat which is right behind the Club level. Purchasing at Ticketmaster online or charging by phone has fees which make the prices higher. I bought mine at the box office and saw a $4.50 fee per ticket for building maintenance is included in the price but is waived if you are a season ticket holder. When purchasing have ID & your credit or debit card they even take checks but that takes forever. The same process plus the order number is needed for Will call which is at window 5 inside of the box office.
If you live in Long Island just take the Long Island Rail Road to 34th street and Penn Station you're just an escalator ride up and a right turn away from it. If living in New Jersey NJ Transit goes to Penn Station and leaves you at the same location. Living in New York City you can easily take the A,C,E #1,#2,&or #3 trains here and it will take you to 34th street. I wouldn't recommend driving into the city or even trying to park here because not only does it fill up quickly but it is quite expensive. To park at the Garden is $30 that parking pass can be bought via Ticketmaster which charges additional fees, or at the Garden box office plus you have to arrive before the event starts because arriving after not only nulls the pass it will be filled up by then.
If you bring a bag, purse or any carry on's you will be searched but if not they just let you in. Still can't believe they allow this but I have written them and still gotten the same "We'll look into it" result. If you have a box seat there is an entrance inside known as the "CLUB/SUITE" entrance, it's a single door with a staffer inside to answer any questions. You'll get your ticket scanned, go up the escalator and you are now a few feet away from the In MSG Play By Play Sports Bar & Grill(Reservations required) & Club grills(no reservations required) Looking inside there are plenty of keep sakes and historic photos housed here. It is pricey but worth a walk in and look around. To the right is the elevators for suite holders, and to your left is escalators with signs that will point you to your box seats. Which go from section 60 to section 68
There is a Chase hub right outside the Garden's entrance on 34th street which has two ATM's but you'll need your debit or ATM card to get in as the doors have a slot which won't open until the magnetic strip of your card is read. Inside the Garden there is another ATM at ticket window #2, and many more throughout each section level of the arena.
The concourses are small yet have their own themes. One is labeled with tons of gold, and platinum plaques from artists who have had concerts here, there is even a cafe which is made up of a record theme which was great. Another is labeled after a bar, you get the idea. I decided to check the Rangers store out where they sell what else? Rangers stuff like jerseys, t-shirts, and pucks. I bought a $6 Rangers puck which is cheaper than the pucks sold at the Coliseum plus I liked the fact they were out in the open and not housed behind some guy's booth. This allowed me to check the condition of it, the cashier was friendly and not angry that I was buying something. He went out of his way being courteous to me throughout and asked if I wanted a bag which I was thankful for. Because for one it allowed me to store the puck in and two some workers at other venues get irritated that they have to hear you ask for a bag, than actually get it for you, and finally have to give you the bag.
Now it was onto the concession stands where my headache started. Officer Steven McDonald a hero here in New York was to present an award to one of the Rangers at 7:04pm and making it at 6:50 to my section entrance I thought I had time so I decided to buy some snacks; what a mistake! One cashier closed her register leaving only two others to take orders from about twenty people, so not only did I miss the starting line ups but I missed the award presentation. The prices were what you'd expect yet absurd at the same time. A 20 oz Dasani was $4.00 and before buying one you are told they have to remove the cap just don't ask why thankfully I didn't. A knish which sells for 39cents at any grocery store goes for $2.25, a regular soda is $3.25 which an MSG souvenir cup going for $4.00 And a SMALL size of cheese in a clear plastic holder with plain, small Nachos goes for $3.75 these things are ultra hot. I spent $10 on a water, knish and Nachos. The food here is nothing special at all, pricey & reminded me how I could've gotten more food for cheaper had I eaten outside.
*Notes*Coke is served here, no Pepsi and for Alcohol you are only allowed two 24 oz beers which go for $6.25 Bud Light or Budweiser. You can't as I saw someone try to do leave with beer purchased inside of the Garden. They will detain you and make sure you either finish your beer inside or have you arrested for breaking the rules.
The bathrooms at MSG thankfully have no doors and instead of doing so to include more stalls it seems that it was done to give it that ultra fancy look with colored tiles on the wall. Too bad the colors of purple and aqua teal don't do much to make me feel manly. There are two entrances, once inside there are five urinals and about two stall's per side not bad but still there should be one huge bathroom. They were clean thankfully. There weren't any lines to get in which is always a plus.
Finally it was time to find my seat. I noticed all you have to do is look at your ticket and an usher hopefully one like I got will help you. There are five row's to every section with the exception of a concert or Knicks game where concert floor seats go from A-Z and Kncks floor seats go from A through P They'll walk you right to your seat. So for section 68 row F which yes, is the first row in all the section's here I had a pretty nice seat, six rows right behind the goalies nest. The chairs are nice, padded yet the chairs in section row F have one fault. Concrete in front and in back. In front you can't kick your legs up and in back you can't lean back in your chair. That I didn't like because there are people like myself who have bad backs and can't keep seated still for too long but the chairs were nicely sized, padded and well kept no rips, tears, no nothing. The color scheme does a lot to brighten up the Garden versus an arena with the same colored chairs throughout which makes it dull.
I've read people's reviews where they complain about the fans and while I understand, I'd rather have fans cheering like maniacs than fans who sit on their hands who decide it is only OK to cheer when their team scores or wins the game and decides for the rest of the game not to care. As an Islander fan I got comments from plenty of Rangers fans but responded right back. It quieted some and for others went on for quite a bit but that is what it is about making it fun to be a part of this rivalry. The lighting is sensational & better than at the Coliseum but once the Coliseum's renovation is complete I doubt I'll be saying that. Unfortunately the Rangers have no ice girls, but did have various give aways, raffles, trivia contests ETC.
The Rangers beat my Islanders 3-1 and it was time to go. They unfortunately shut the escalators off, making it seem like an eternity before you can reach the exit. Once outside they will prohibit anyone who tries to re-enter from doing so. Going down the stairs is a no no, the steps are small and with so many people going down them in a rush it is an accident waiting to happen. The subways are pretty packed so give yourself time or just eat out until then.
Overall I found the staff better than my previous visit in 2004, and while I had wished my Islanders won it was a great visit and I'd definitely go again to see my Celtics play the Knicks or any other events.