A Night in the Garden – Living the American Dream in Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden is without a doubt the modern equivalent of the Roman’s Colosseum. Nearly every night of the week, it plays host to some form of spectacle of grandeur. Whether it be a concert of one of the world’s top musical performers or seeing some of the best athletes the world has to offer doing their thing, walking through the doors of Madison Square Garden guarantees you a memorable experience.
A Night in Madison Square Garden
My own experience of Madison Square Garden is something I will not be forgetting any time soon. It was a bitterly cold November evening in 2014 and I had already been walking around the streets of New York having my mind blown by pretty much everything I had laid my eyes on, for the three days previous. The indoor arena is easy to find and it is less than a two minute walk away from the legendary Macy’s department store. When the sight of Madison Square Garden hits you first, it feels like your eyes have just come across a diamond ring on a sandy beach. It is simply amazing!
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of standing next to a real life NBA player, the walk into the Garden gives you the next best thing. Pictured on the walls as you make your entry, you will see life-sized images of the various different stars of the New York Knicks basketball team plastered onto the walls. Only when you walk up close, do you realise just how tiny you are in comparison to these real life super heroes.
Ice Hockey was the order of the day for my own particular excursion; an NHL Regular Season match-up between the New York Rangers and the Colorado Avalanche. The atmosphere of the pre-game build up was electric. Thousands of New Yorkers; drinking beer, eating pretzels whilst trying to predict match tactics. Your wealth of American swear words will increase as you hear the regulars bad mouthing the under performing players whilst wearing their team’s colours with pride. I admittedly don’t have the first clue about the rules of Ice-Hockey but it was hard not get caught up in the occasion. A thing that disappointed me was the price of alcohol and the fact that you can only buy a maximum of two drinks at any one time. This is especially awkward when you are travelling with groups of friends, as was the case on this particular night.
The Arena is spotless and the hygiene of the toilets is something that Buckingham Palace would aspire too, insanity! Also if you’re looking to buy any of the official clothing or jerseys for whatever spectacle you choose to see, be sure you have a full wallet as the they can cause you to part ways with a lot of your hard earned dollars!
The average NHL player is quite the specimen; big, nasty looking and abnormally graceful in a pair of skates. It took all of sixty seconds before the old NHL tradition of two players from opposing teams being allowed by the match officials, to knock seven shades out of each other was occurring. For anybody not familiar with this world (as was the case with my group), this is amazing to see. If two people did this on the street they would spend the night in jail, but because it is within the perimeters of an ice skating rink, it’s as normal as a cup of tea with your sandwiches. After the two players were escorted off, bloodied and to a rapturous round of applause, the game carried on.
The next thing to tick off the list as a visiting spectator, was to see how the crowd reacts when there is a goal. It most definitely does not disappoint. When the Rangers did eventually score, the whole crowd rose to their feet as one and began a chant that apparently occurs EVERY SINGLE TIME they score a goal. Trying to join in with the chants as they went along may make you look stupid to the regulars, but it is by far the most fun part of the night. The roof of Madison Square Garden was nearly blown off and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced an atmosphere like it.
An Insight into American Society
When I go on holidays, I always try to get a sense for what local society is like. After getting over the initial jealousy I had towards the fact that these regular spectators could casually travel from work to experience this type of occasion a few times a week, I started to eavesdrop on some conversations like a true Irish snoop. Hearing young professionals talk about their office jobs in the Manhattan financial district and hearing the name-dropping various brand names of clothes, cars and the weekend holiday destinations “Up-State” was both cringe-worthy but excellent all at the same time. That was another fascinating addition to an already incredible night and it helped us leave Madison Square Garden feeling like New Yorkers just a little bit. :)
The game went all the way to overtime and penalties which increased the sense that we were getting full value for our admission fee. New York Rangers lost but that was nearly irrelevant at that point. It was an unforgettable experience, even if we were not huge American sports fans.
Something for Everyone
For those of you who could never see yourself parting ways with any amount of money to witness a sporting event, Madison Square Garden plays host to some of the world’s best musical acts on a weekly basis. If you have a holiday to New York coming just around the corner, search through the American Ticketmaster website. There is a very strong likelihood that you will be able to get your hands on tickets to a show of some description and the prices are extremely reasonable. Also it eliminates the risks associated when buying off the scalpers that roam the streets.
Madison Square Garden has played and continues to play host to some of the world’s most talented individuals. It is a venue full of history and provides an atmosphere that is unrivalled by any other indoor arena the world over.
So if you’re lucky enough to be planning a New York travel itinerary, be sure to fit in a night in Madison Square Garden and live the American Dream for yourself!