Garden plans huge renovation
On Tuesday I attended a news conference at the Garden to celebrate the extension and expansion of its 100-year marketing relationship with Coca-Cola.
I consumed two 8.5-ounce Coke Zeros during the event, which featured a video celebrating the relationship between the companies, including a Ranger chugging a Coke after winning the 1940 Stanley Cup.
In attendance were Walt Frazier, Adam Graves, two Rockettes, Toure (evidently a host on the music channel FUSE), Al Trautwig, Floyd Lane, Emile Griffith and Rufus, a bull terrier who was a champ at the 2006 Westminster Kennel Club dog show.
After the photo op Scott O'Neil, president of MSG Sports, spent part of his 40th birthday giving me a tour of the model suites and seats Garden officials use to show off plans for a massive renovation.
The first phase, covering the lower bowl, is expected to be done for '11-12, followed by the upper bowl, which will include increasing the pitch of the seats to improve sight lines from the (relatively) cheap seats.
I'll be writing much more on all this as it moves forward, of course, but the scope is pretty remarkable given the fact the place is 42 years old.
Some of it is a matter of luck, for example the fact that behind the existing, narrow concourses there was office space that can be removed to expand out to the exterior of the building.
Given the cost and magnitude of the changes, I asked O'Neil whether it would have been easier to knock down the place and start over.
"We want to play here," he said.