In December of 2006, I was visiting friends in New York City, and found myself standing outside Madison Square Garden. It occurred to me that the Knicks would play the Charlotte Bobcats in about an hour. With ten ice cold blocks still separating me from my friends, who were camped out at a bar near Times Square, I decided to attend the Knicks game alone. My ticket was ten dollars, which was less than a movie ticket I had paid for a week earlier. I sat in the 400 level, the "green seats," as Knicks fans knew them, and saw what turned out to be the game of the season. After two overtimes, David Lee tipped the ball in off of a Jamal Crawford inbound pass with 0.1 seconds remaining, proving that it was indeed possible to score a basket, and win a game, with less than 0.3 seconds on the game clock. The Knicks only won 33 games that season, but this was definitely the most dramatic win of the season.
I only went to two more Knicks games after that, one in 2007 and one in 2008. I haven't been back to The Garden to see a basketball game following the acquisitions of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, so I was not in the building to see the progress of the recently completed billions of dollars worth of renovations, that delivered, among other things, a brand new jumbo-tron that illuminates center court, but seems to vacuum the heart and soul out of the "world's most famous arena."
As part of the renovations, MSG transformed the color of the seats from burgundy and teal to a more subdued navy blue, altering the structure of the seating sections to a more generic bowl shape. Even the players' tunnel was victim to renovation. The new tunnel features a lounge and a see through walk-way, so fans sitting close enough can watch their favorite stars emerge from the locker room, and take center court. In order to construct this amenity for court-side viewers, MSG had to gut the most famed center-court players tunnel, the same one that Willis Reed hobbled out of for game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals.
Even the beautiful Chase bridges, concession walkways that nearly graze the building's spiral ceiling come at a cost. Now fans sitting in the 400 level, what once was the very same "green seats" where I would so often sit, has an obstructed view of the new massive jumbo-tron. Instead fans in the upper levels get a view of their own personal flat screen TV's in every section, that are hung from the back wall of the new bridges that now separate them from the rest of the arena.
The Garden looks shiny and new, but it may not make the Knicks a better team. The Knicks won both their championships, and made all their finals appearances before these massive renovations took place. Now that those days are clearly long-forgotten, its up to the players on the floor to determine weather or not the arena in its current state will be immortalized forever, or will just be a reminder to how much money was spent on erasing its past.