NYC: Madison Square Garden

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    Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG, known colloquially simply as The Garden, has been the name of four incarnations of arenas. Madison Square Garden derives its name from the park where the first two gardens were located. As the venue moved to new locations the name still stuck.

    On February 11, 1968 the fourth Madison Square Garden opened after the financially troubled Pennsylvania Railroad tore down Pennsylvania Station (although the tracks remained underneath). The current Garden is the hub of Madison Square Garden Center in the office and entertainment complex known as Pennsylvania Plaza, for the railroad station atop which the complex is located.

    The present Garden hosts 320 events a year but it is best known as the home of the Madison Square Garden-owend New York Knicks (NBA) and the New York Rangers (NHL). It also hosts New York Liberty (WNBA), the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, selected home games for the St. John's Red Storm (NCAA), the annual pre and postseason NIT tournaments, the NBA Draft, and the Millrose Games. It has previously hosted the 1976, 1980 and 1992 Democratic National Conventions, the 2004 Republican National Convention, Wrestlemania and the NFL Draft for many years (now held at Garden-owned Radio City Music Hall).

    Before promoters moved boxing to Las Vegas, MSG was considered the mecca of boxing, hosting the biggest of fights, including many of Joe Louis, the Roberto Duran-Ken Buchanan affair, and the first and second Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali bouts. MSG also hosts large arena concerts. Particularly famous ones include The Concert for New York City following the www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/159455100/'s Concert for Bangladesh, Led Zeppelin's "Song Remains the Same" concert and John Lennon's final concert appearance before his murder in 1980.

    Seating in the present Madison Square Garden is arranged in five ascending levels. The lowest one is referred to as "rink-side" for hockey games or "court-side" for basketball games. Next above this is the First Promenade, followed by the Second Promenade, First Balcony and Second Balcony. The seats of these five levels originally bore the colors red, orange, yellow, green, and blue, respectively; however, this color scheme has since been changed, mainly because the "blue seats" had become synonymous with rowdy behavior by fans, particularly those attending New York Rangers hockey games. It was a common sight for Rangers fans to set fire to the jerseys of fans from visiting teams, especially those from the New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, and the Philadelphia Flyers. Rangers fans in the blue seats would defend their home from the invading hordes of visiting teams' fans at all costs. Fights were constantly occurring, and ushers would often let Rangers fans get their last punches or kicks in before hauling away the opposing fan. For hockey, the Garden seats 18,200; for basketball, 19,763; and for concerts 20,000 center stage, 19,522 end-stage. The arena features 20,976 square feet (1949 m²) of arena floor space.

    The Garden became the first artificial ice rink in North America in 1879. It hosted the first indoor professional American football game in 1902, the first televised basketball game in 1940, the first color televised boxing match in 1964, and the first Wrestlemania in 1985. It was the site of Wendell Willkie's 20,000-person civil rights rally in 1943 and home to John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday celebration in 1962 where Marilyn Monroe sang here infamous "Happy Birthday, Mr. President."

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