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Take a tour of the evolving Madison Square Garden

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Toronto-based architect Murray Beynon, a native of Waterloo, Ont., is overseeing the three-year renovation of Madison Square Garden, which has a top-end budget of $980-million, including contingencies.

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Anyone who went to pre-reno MSG can tell you how grotty and claustrophobic the concourses used to be. No more. Beynon and his team have put the accent on pale colours, higher ceilings and open spaces rather than putting concessions behind counters and walls. The contrast between the lower levels, which were done last year, and the upper ones, which are scheduled for this year, is striking. The arena company has also announced it will create an interactive exhibit with collectibles, plaques, and other doo-dads, to celebrate the history of the building. It will be located on one of the lower concourses.

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Just because the world’s most famous arena hosts 400 events a year doesn’t mean that construction stops. Here, workers are building the Madison Club, a bar and restaurant that will be unveiled next season. More than 3,700 workers tradespeople will be involved in the job, and even during hockey, baseball and concert season, they’re busy running wires, fibre optic cable and ductwork. “The challenge is doing that while everything else is still working,” Beynon said. The only caveat: work stops a minimum of three hours before sporting events and concerts.

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The Delta 360 Club – another of those sponsored facilities – occupies a vast space under the stands behind the home net. It’s conceived as a place to hobnob and do business, and for Delta to strut its stuff for high-rollers sitting in the expensive seats. For example, there’s an interactive trip-planning display.

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The Delta 360 Club – another of those sponsored facilities – occupies a vast space under the stands behind the home net. It’s conceived as a place to hobnob and do business, and for Delta to strut its stuff for high-rollers sitting in the expensive seats. For example, there’s an interactive trip-planning display.

Micheal Falco/Michael Falco/The Globe and Mail

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One of the first orders of business in the from-the-ground-up reno was to give 21st century digs to the Rangers and Knicks, whose locker rooms are adjacent and share many of the same medical and treatment facilities. The Rangers’ new room is airy and expansive, and as seems to be the norm in new arenas, is roughly shaped like an arena.

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One of the first orders of business in the from-the-ground-up reno was to give 21st century digs to the Rangers and Knicks, whose locker rooms are adjacent and share many of the same medical and treatment facilities. The Rangers’ new room is airy and expansive, and as seems to be the norm in new arenas, is roughly shaped like an arena.

Micheal Falco/Michael Falco/The Globe and Mail

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Workers demolished and rebuilt the lower bowl in the summer of 2011, this coming summer they’ll start on the upper bowl, removing 8,000 seats and more than 50,000 cubic feet of concrete. It will be rebuilt 17 degrees steeper to improve sightlines and to make room for new concourses behind the stands. Next summer will see the final phase of the renovation completed, it involves a full restoration of the roof and the installation of two bridges that will span the length of the playing surface, and will have seats for 1,000 fans.

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Most serious sports fans don’t spend a ton of time sitting in their seats, although the renovated Garden will make it more comfortable for those who do. The first phase of the renovations saw the seats in the lower-bowl replaced with wider, plusher models, the rest of the building will be finished in 2012.

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- One of the main features of the renovated Garden is the transformation of what was previously storage and back-stage space into revenue-generating space. Here is the hallway that leads to the ice-level luxury suites, it’s adorned by prints photographed and painted by longtime MSG photographer George Kalinsky, who has been the building’s official photographer for 46 years.

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The revamped Garden will feature several bar/club type areas with arena views. The first was built last summer at one end of the upper bowl, another is currently being built at the other end of the building. Beynon said “we want to have something for everyone”, which is why there will be everything from million-dollar suites to standing room tickets available for sporting events at the arena.

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The space once occupied by the Play by Play sports bar has been converted into a swanky dark-leather and oak VIP lounge for premium season-ticket holders called the 1879 Club. It’s sponsored by JP Morgan, an investment bank that has had a long commercial relationship with the arena (it was founded in 1879). Almost every public space in the restored arena will be sponsored – it’s one of the perks of operating the only professional sports arena in Manhattan.

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