AS I SEE IT – the World’s Most Famous Arena
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
One of the items in this week’s news featured demands by the City of New York to James Dolan and media conglomerate Cablevision, the owners of Madison Square Garden that they have 10 years to find a new location to place Madison Square Garden.
This, despite, well-publicized renovations to the venue over the last three years to the tune of nearly $1 billion.
All this has come to light because the New York City Council voted last Wednesday to limit Madison Square Garden’s permit at its current spot above Penn Station to 10 years; rather than the lease in perpetuity they sought. Organizations hoping MSG will move elsewhere were pleased with the 47-1 City Council vote.
Madison Square Garden is often described as the “World Most Famous Arena”. It has been the home to the NHL’s New York Rangers, the NBA’s New York Knicks, and countless concerts, NCAA basketball tournaments…professional wrestling…and as the unofficial “home” to WWE, has been told to leave its current location within the next ten years.
For those not aware, the reason for all this political drama: The Garden sits on top of Penn Station, likely the busiest transportation hub in North America. AMTRAK trains going up and down the East Coast stop there. Numerous commuter train lines come there. Subway lines come there. Well, Penn Station is a mess. It’s crowded, old, and dingy. But it still manages to work. But there are those within New York who see Penn Station as needing a major face lift. The only way New York City Council sees it happening is to tear down the Garden; even though it’s questionable if this is necessary to refurbish Penn Station.
So, again, a city government wants to tear down an classic sports/wrestling venue for questionable purposes. It’s not as if Madison Square Garden doesn’t bring revenue into midtown Manhattan and the City of New York.
Just the wrestling history of the Garden is considerable. Madison Square Garden has hosted three WrestleManias, including the inaugural WrestleMania and SummerSlam. WWE/F held its tenth and twentieth anniversary celebrations there. This past year, the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony was held there. Long before that…it was the WWWF venue sold out by Bruno Sammartino month after month.
Here are a few more of the moments featured at Madison Square Garden:
October 17th, 1983 – The Magnificent Muraco vs. Jimmy Snuka – this is known best for the Jimmy Snuka jump off of the top of the cage that’s become almost legendary in WWE history, and is known for inspiring Mick Foley’s career.
January 23rd, 1984 – Hulk Hogan vs. Iron Sheik title change and the birth of “Hulkamania”
March 31st, 1985 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania
March 20th, 1994 – Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart at Wrestlemania X – one of the most memorable WWE matches ever and on the same night… Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (Wrestlemania X) “The Ladder Match”
September 22nd, 1997 – Triple H vs. Cactus Jack on Monday Night Raw – one of the best free WWE hardcore matches.
March 14th, 2004 – Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania X. This was known for the heartwarming celebration by Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero; that is now in retrospect, so sad to think about.
It’s difficult to imagine the Garden was actually be forced to move. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the first shot in a battle between the City of New York and megabillionaire James Dolan.
Until next time….
— Bob Magee