Madison Square Garden has unveiled a revamped tour experience that gives you the chance to sit courtside in “celebrity row,” snap selfies near the Knicks’ net and take a virtual step onstage with Billy Joel.
“We take you to the penalty box on Rangers’ days, and you’ll get the chance to see some of our dressing rooms that musicians use, like Billy Joel,” MSG guide Anthony Aiken says, highlighting some of the new elements incorporated in the All-Access Tour.
The experience, which officially launched Oct. 15, allows fans to get up close and personal with the historic venue as they spend nearly 75 minutes exploring five floors, from court-level to Chase Sky Bridge seats.
“The new All-Access Tour appeals to a wide audience – whether it’s your first time in New York City or you’re a life-long New Yorker,” says Darren Pfeffer, EVP of MSG Live. The tour “offers guests from near and far a unique first-hand glimpse into what has made MSG the ‘world’s most famous arena,’ playing host to iconic moments in sports and entertainment and unforgettable special events, such as major awards shows and historic Papal visits.”
We know what you’re thinking: City venue tours are loaded with tourists. But this updated version looks to appeal to New Yorkers by providing the chance to experience something new at the venue, even if you’ve been there dozens of times.
Exhibit A: Sitting in a VIP front-row seat that’s previously been occupied by the likes of Spike Lee, Kevin Hart, Leslie Jones, Dave Chappelle and other celebrity Knicks fans. Easily the highlight of the $33 experience, “celebrity row” is on track to become the most Instagrammed moment, Aiken says.
But it’s not just about the photo-op.
“With the new tour, we’ve not only created a more informative experience, but a more interactive one as well,” Pfeffer says.
Hands-on elements in the Interactive Fan Zone let you see how your strength measures up to a boxer and compare your hand and foot size to NBA greats, like Walt “Clyde” Frazier — whose hand stretches 9.5 inches, in case you were wondering.
The Chase Sky Bridge on the 10th floor serves as a virtual reality hub, where visitors will slip on headsets to witness MSG transform from ice rink to basketball court to concert stage within seconds. The actually process takes about three hours and involves the installation of wooden squares being locked into place over the Rangers’ ice.
And what would a look at MSG be without a visit from resident performer Billy Joel, who’s held more than 100 shows at the venue?
If you’ve never experienced one of Joel’s bucket-list worthy performances, you’ll enjoy stepping on stage with the Piano Man while he belts out his 1973 namesake single. Well, virtually, of course.
“You see a Knicks game, a Rangers game, and you’ll also be seeing a Billy Joel concert, so you get a tease of the experience of all three main attractions at The Garden,” Aiken says.
Though overhauled, elements of the original tour remain, so you’ll get the chance to drop by suites you most likely can’t afford and admire historical memorabilia that has been preserved throughout The Garden’s history.
Three wooden VIP seats from MSG III, circa 1925, are still on display, along with a homemade Zamboni, boasting the Rangers’ red, white and blue, which cleared the ice for the team until 1949.
MSG tours are offered every half-hour from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., daily. Experiences vary based on the evening’s event, so take note if you’re more interested in checking out the Rangers’ penalty box than walking the basketball court. Preregistration isn’t required and the tour entrance can be most easily accessed through the 32nd Street and Seventh Avenue entrance.
The tour is currently being offered in both English and Spanish. Spanish tours are offered up to three times daily.