Underground MSG: 5 Stories You Haven’t Heard

For many New Yorkers, Madison Square Garden is America’s Coliseum. As the premier stadium in the US’s most densely populated city, the Garden hosts the NBA’s Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers teams in style. It’s the former home of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, too.

However, the venue also hosts up to 320 other events per year, including boxing events and major league drafts. Not only is it a major location for athletes to play and fans to attend, but it’s even got a reputation amongst pundits.

For analysts providing a wide range of betting odds, a team’s home-field advantage is especially palpable at a stadium with the size and clout of MSG. Athletes competing at venues in nearby New Jersey or Connecticut won’t face quite the level of intimidation that Rangers and Knicks’ fans can conjure from their seats.

And, from a fan’s point of view, there are few arena experiences as exciting and dynamic as those at Madison Square Garden. Not only is the venue nestled in Manhattan’s legendary Midtown neighborhood, but the location itself is home to some of the city’s most interesting and seldom heard-of factoids.

The Circular Locker Room Revolution 

Mark Messier of the New York Rangers’ unstoppable 1990s squad revolutionized the gameday experience for athletes competing at MSG. With the venue set for updates, Messier, who was the Rangers captain (and future Hall-of-Famer), suggested that locker rooms be constructed in a circular fashion.

Not only did the idea take off for the Rangers, but it was soon adopted by the Knicks (the NHL and NBA squads have separate locker rooms). The curved shape allowed athletes to connect via eye contact before the competition. Since then, other teams have adopted new shapes, such as the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, which is shaped like a football.

Benefit Concerts Outshine Sporting Events

Aside from raking in billions in revenue from ticket sales on major concerts and sporting events, the great minds behind MSG aren’t afraid to host a benefit. In fact, the venue has seen some of the world’s most lucrative charitable events come through.

The 1971 Concert for Bangladesh saw George Harrison of the Beatles bring in some $250,000 in relief for UNICEF. Forty-one years later, the 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief brought in $50 million for the city’s relief efforts.

Benefit Concerts Outshine Sporting Events

MSG is Built Atop a Cemetery

For the non-New Yorkers, it may be surprising to know just how much of Manhattan is constructed atop burial grounds. Given MSG’s long and storied history certainly hasn’t shied away from tragedy, the venue’s current standing is more of a technical feat than a ghostly surprise.

What was once a cemetery and almshouse at Post and Bloomingdale roads (near Fifth and Madison today) became a house of refuge in 1806. But, only forty years later, the land was leveled to begin construction on the first iteration of The Garden.

Judas Priest Fans Destroyed the Venue 

MSG has hosted a wide array of performers and speakers, ranging from Pope Francis to the Blue Man Group—but few events have left the venue in chaos. Such was the case when, in 1984, rock band Judas Priest took the stage.

Though the band behaved themselves, their fans destroyed the venue, throwing firecrackers and glass bottles onto the stage. Out of ammunition, the riotous crowd turned to the chairs next, reportedly ripping apart seats, as well. The damage? $250,000…. And a Judas Priest ban.

It’s Set to be Demolished in 2023 

Back in 2013, the New York City Council extended their operating agreement with MSG for another decade. Now that 2023 is close to arriving, many New Yorkers are wondering about the fate of their beloved stadium.

The original plan was for MSG to be demolished and then rebuilt, as this would allow crucial construction to take place at the nearby Penn Station. So far, MSG hasn’t attempted to extend its permit—though there hasn’t been public pressure put on the venue, either. With this in mind, anyone looking to visit the iconic stadium should look to plan a trip before 2023.