The new MSG: Not such a fan favorite

Patrick Hoffman
August 16, 2011

While hockey fans in one area of New York are complaining about not getting a new arena, fans in another area are thinking negatively about new renovations being made to their arena. This is the case when it comes to the New York Rangers and the changes to the “World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.

Currently, the NYC mainstay is being gutted on the inside and transformed into something even more corporate and new age than it was before.

New York Rangers blogger Scotty of Scott Hockey is not exactly thrilled with what MSG is transforming into.

“I am less than pleased because I see a dark future in it,” he told The Good Point recently. “I see a future where hardcore fans and children will not be able to afford to go to games.”

Scotty, who has had Rangers season tickets for the last six seasons, may have a point as MSG has increased Rangers’ season ticket prices by 23 percent for 2011-12.

“I was part of a focus group the Garden held with other season ticket holders where a third-party gentleman asked several questions, all along the line of ‘what would make it alright for them to take your seat away and give you a worse one?’,” Scotty said.

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“The answer, unanimously, was nothing.”

Kevin Baumer of New York Rangers’ fan publication Blueshirt Bulletin said that the price of the tickets will not make many Blueshirt fans too happy, especially with the shape of the U.S. economy.

“If the primary concern is price, as I think it is for many people, then it will be hard for fans to be satisfied,” Baumer said. “They’ve gone up pretty dramatically over the last decade and although you can still find some good deals on StubHub and the like, buying face-value tickets means digging deep into your wallet.”

On any given weeknight Rangers game, the crowd is filled with many fans in suits as most of them are coming from work in New York City or close to it. With the new renovations, Scotty believes the numbers of business professionals in the stands will actually increase.

“The Garden will be another vanilla building, albeit one even more full of tourists and businessmen who endlessly talk on their Blackberries while ignoring the action,” Scotty said. “It is just another case of eroding your long-term fan base in exchange for a short-term money grab.”

Another concern Baumer has is how the renovations will take away what the Garden used to be like in previous years — something bound to upset some of the Original Six team’s die-hard fans.

“The old guard probably won’t be too pleased to see the new arena. From what I understand it’s going to be unrecognizable,” Baumer said. “I don’t think the powers that be are overly concerned with that.”

While the two bloggers recognize there will be some cool new features to the updated MSG, they all agree that some of the true Ranger fans out there may never go to a game again due to increased ticket prices.

“When you charge $60-70 for nosebleeds, how many of the blue collar fans will bring the wife and kids to several games a season?” Scotty asked rhetorically.

“Not many. They will sit at home and watch it on television, where it becomes just another program.”

With the Rangers set to open their regular season in MSG come October, it will be interesting to see which fans come back and which fans don’t.

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The Author:

Patrick Hoffman