As the saying goes, New York City is the center of the universe. And the people at Madison Square Garden would like to believe that the legendary arena is the center of all things happening within the five boroughs throughout its 150 years of putting on sporting events, concerts and even religious gatherings.
If these walls could talk. Fortunately for us, MSG will be opening its doors to the public for special All Access Tours of the world-renowned arena. This 75-minute tour will take place daily between 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., with exception to game days, of course.
Photo courtesy of MSG
On this tour, guests will peak behind the scenes at dressing rooms that have been occupied by some of the biggest stars in entertainment as well as locker rooms for both the Knicks and the Rangers. Tour guides will give you in-depth historical accounts of some of the biggest moments in the arena’s history such as the Fight of the Century and the Concert for Bangladesh.
You will see the arena from the best vantage points including VIP boxes, the media galley and even the floor. To go one step further, the tour will grant you a one-of-a-kind VR experience with up-close views of both New York Rangers and New York Knicks games, a boxing match and even an onstage view of Billy Joel performing “Piano Man” at one of his 66 straight sold-out shows at the Garden.
There really is no place like MSG, and that feeling still stays with retired NBA great and former Knick Larry “LJ” Johnson, now employed as a business operations representative for the team. “Coming from Dallas,” Johnson says, while we chat in the arena, “this was the mecca.”
Knicks legend John Starks, who was their star shooting guard from 1990 to 1998, completely agrees with Johnson that The Garden is a special place like no other for basketball players all over the world.
“No question … it’s a very special place,” says Starks, who now works for the Knicks as an alumnus and fan development official, and even does pregame and postgame analysis for the MSG Network. “That’s what every basketball player dreams about. Coming here and performing and performing at a high level. To be able to play for this organization, it was very special for the eight years that I was here. Now that I’m back working on the front-office side, it’s even more special.”
Starks is known as one of the greatest Knicks to ever wear the uniform and his immortal “the dunk” against the Chicago Bulls is forever immortalized in the halls of The Garden alongside photos of visits from the Pope and signed boxing gloves from Muhammed Ali. That honor is not lost on the NBA legend. I ask Starks if there are any other moments that come to mind when walking the arena day in and day out. He immediately recalls the heated 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers.
“Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers. The game was on the line and I was just coming off a knee surgery and I remember I had a pick and roll with me and Patrick [Ewing]. In my mind I’m trying to recreate ‘the dunk’ again, I was seeing the same thing happening. I went up and the hops weren’t there! I went up against Dale Davis. I was going to go up left and I had to change it and all I could do was get it up off the board and I missed the shot. This was the waning seconds! Here comes Patrick, out of nowhere, to save me and dunk it back in.”
To book your very own tour of Madison Square Garden, head over to Ticketmaster or msg.com/tours today.