Madison Square Garden III

Madison Square Garden
Image of Madison Square Garden III
courtesy of Madison Square Garden

  Administrative  
Address 2 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 10121
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  The Facility  
Date Built December 15, 1925
Date Demolished Unknown
Ownership
(Management)
George (Tex) Rickard
(George (Tex) Rickard)
Cost of Construction Unknown
  Other Facts  
Former Tenants New York Rangers (NHL) 1926-1968
New York Knicks (NBA) 1946-1968
New York Americans (NHL)
New York Rovers
Capacity 15,000
On Site Parking Unknown
Nearest Airport 10 Miles
Retired Numbers #1 Ed Giacomin
#7 Rod Gilbert
#35 Mike Richter
#99 Wayne Gretzky
1st

1928
2nd

1933
3rd

1940

Sources: Mediaventures

When colorful New York boxing promoter George (Tex) Rickard discovered in 1924 that the old Madison Square Garden was to be razed to make way for a skyscraper, he assembled a team of businessmen he called his "600 millionaires," set up financing, and broke ground for a new Madison Square Garden on January 9, 1925 on a new location. The site selected for the third Garden was Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. Existing trolley car barns were torn down to make room for the new arena, which was constructed in only 249 days.

Madison Square Garden III was 200 feet by 375 feet. It had three tiers of seats and could seat 18,500 for boxing. The first event was, however, a six-day bicycle race which began on November 24, 1925. On December 6, the first professional basketball game was played in Madison Square Garden III with the original Celtics defeating the Washington Palace Five 35-31.

On December 8, the first boxing match at the new Garden saw flyweight champion Jack McDermott upset by Johnny Erickson. On December 11, 17,575 fans paid to see Paul Berlenbach out-point Jack Delaney and retain his light-heavyweight title.

The official opening of Garden III was December 15, when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Americans 3-1. For the record, the first goal ever scored in the Garden came off the stick of New York American winger Shorty Green.

After travelling to Montreal with Damon Runyon to watch the flamboyantly talented Howie Morenz and his Montreal Canadiens raise the game of ice hockey to the sublime, Rickard was convinced New Yorkers would embrace the fast, rugged sport and installed ice in his building. He rented the rink to the New York Americans for a season and, after seeing their popularity swell, realized New York could support two teams and hired young Conn Symthe to create a rival to the Americans. On November 17, 1926, the New York Rangers won their first game in the Garden by defeating the Montreal Maroons 1-0, and another hockey dynasty was born.

Under the leadership of Rickard and, later General John Reed Kilpatrick, Ned Irish and Irving Mitchell Felt, the Garden steadily increased in stature and built its reputation as the most famous and most exciting arena in the world.

Appearing in Madison Square Garden was considered so important that many star athletes suffered what came to be known as "Garden-itis," the sports equivalent of stage fright.

Among the highlights in the 40-year life span of Garden III were the appearance in the Finnish-American A.C. Games on January 6, 1925 of Paavo Nurmi, winner of five Olympic gold medals; the debut of the New York Rangers, who defeated the Montreal Maroons, 1-0, on November 17, 1926; and a 1932 rally for Democratic Presidential nominee Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which drew 22,000. The future President's appearance at the Garden continued a tradition begun in 1892 by Grover Cleveland and followed by virtually every presidential candidate since.

Other Garden III landmark events included the first college basketball doubleheader on December 29, 1934; the first National Invitational Tournament in 1938; Sonia Henie's Hollywood Ice Review attended by more than 15,000 in 1938; Gene Autry and the rodeo, which attracted nearly 13,000 spectators in 1940; the Garden debut of the Knicks in 1946; Mike Todd's legendary "Around the World in 80 Days" anniversary party on October 17, 1957, (with Marilyn Monroe riding an elephant and Elizabeth Taylor hosting) and President John F. Kennedy's birthday party in May 1962.

On April 3, 1999 Tom Saboy wrote: Another promonent tenant of MSG 50th & 8th was the NEW YORK ROVERS. They played on Sunday afternoons. The Rangers always played on Sunday/Wedesday night.. At that time the hometeam wore the dark jerseys, visitors white. Tuesday & Thursday were college basketball (doubleheaders). Friday was the FIGHTS. The Knicks played Saturday night and at the 69th regiment armory if there was an important college basketball game. Important local teams included NYU (Barry Kramer), LIU (Sherman White), St John's (Zeke Zwalick), Seton Hall (Walter Dukes/Rickie Regen), Manhatten,(Julius Kellog) and CCNY (NIT/NCAA) , Important visitors included Holy Cross, Niagra, Duquene, Syacuse, Kentucky, Kansas, and one year "RIO GRAND" with star center BEVO FRANCIS !!!

Unlike the current garden the seats were right on top of the action wether you were in the lower stans, mezz or the "Balcony". Also unlike the current garden it was affordable!!!

On February 22, 2011 Benjamin Beekman wrote: As a John Adams High School student in 1946-47 I remember going to the Garden using my G.O. (General Organization) card and paying only 40. cents admission. The school cafeteria sold the cards as proof of age and residency. Otherwise, general admission to the balcony where we always sat was╩70 cents without a G.O. card, and if you sat in either the first or second row of the balcony it normally╩cost $1.25.╩If you sat in the balcony you couldn't see anything on the nearest side of the ice (near the sideboards) because the first few rows of balcony╩seats blocked your view. There were several of us Ranger fans who would save our money (we had very little) to go to the better games such as when Rangers played Montreal or Toronto. We were there for the "big fight" in 1947 when both benches cleared and the Rangers literally slugged it out with the Canadians. By todays "standards" it wouldn't cause such excitement, these things being routine. We would cheer for the "Atomic Line" of Gardner, Russell and Trudell and for poor Chuck Rayner who never seemed to have the capable defense he needed; his goals against average was always higher than we thought he deserved. When the club hired Alan Stanley ("Stanley Steamer"), the defense did improve and things started looking up for New York. I distinctly recall that at every game we attended there was a really╩good-looking blonde who would come and sit in the first row first level on the opposite╩side of the rink from us,╩right next to the door leading onto the ice╩ No-one could possibly sit where she sat unless they were one of the owners or their wives. And she was there every time we were. I'm sure she didn't miss a single game. Those were the days when none of the players wore face masks. Even without them we rarely, if ever, saw anyone hit in the face by the puck or an opponent's stick. Today everyone wears them. At that time the goaltender for Montreal was Bill Durnan, Jacques Plante's predecessor, and he got along fine without one. Only after Plante was struck in the face and refused to play╩unless he could wear a face mask were they commonly used.╩╩The vendors really cleaned up on the kids who sat in the balcony as we did, charging top prices for ice cream or hot dogs. If I remember correctly the small ice cream package which you ate using a flat wooden spoon, cost 70 cents. Hot dogs were about $1.25. When the game was over (the Rangers usually having lost), we would exit via the fire escape which was alongside the outside of the building and return home on the subway.

Just last night I╩was thumbing through an old New York Rangers Hockey Magazine and Program that I had saved all these years. Cost 25 cents. In it were photos of Bert Lee and Ward Wilson who broadcast Ranger games over station WHN, later WMGM. Bud Palmer (ex-NY Knickerbocker)╩joined them a couple of years later. The seat prices were at that time (mid-late 1940's) 70. cents for side balcony with╩rows A and B $1.25 ; mezzanine $1.75 to $2.25; end arena $2.25 to $3.00; promenades $3.00 to $3.50; side arena $3.50 to $4.50 and side loge $4.50. My friends and I always sat in the least expensive balcony seats which were only 40. cents using our high school discount cards. If we had to sit far back we would stand on the seats so we could see over the heads of people in front, especially when the action took place next to the near sideboards. The Garden was usually packed for Ranger games but we rarely arrived early enough to sit in the third or fourth row where the view would have been better. We were there on the night the Rangers played Montreal╩when both benches cleared and fighting took place on the ice. Really, it was mayhem. It started when Montreal defenseman Kenny Reardon, a rough and tough guy, was injured during play. The injury was sufficiently serious that he was being╩led off the ice just╩past the end of the╩Ranger bench and, with an attendant,╩was proceeding╩toward a staircase leading down to the first-aid station. As he was passing the Ranger bench someone in the crowd above and to his right (in the side loge seats)╩reached out with some kind of a stick and hit him on the head, which began to bleed. Since Reardon was going bald it was very easy to see the wound and the╩bleeding that resulted. Reardon turned and began to go after his attacker and a small melee ensued, causing the entire╩Canadian bench to leap over the boards and skate across the ice thinking Reardon was being╩mobbed by both the Rangers as well as the crowd. A number of Rangers, seeing the white-shirted Canadians coming at them across the ice, jumped over their own boards and met their attackers half way. The fighting was all over the ice with just about everyone on both teams involved.╩Unbelievable.╩When things finally cooled off, Reardon and some others were given penalties for fighting which he served after his noggin was patched up. On Saturday nights when we were at home we would tune in to hear Foster Hewitt announcing the games from Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The radio╩station, CBL,╩was╩╩distant and thus╩very weak, constantly fading in and out, but Hewitt had a very unique style of broadcasting as well as a very nasal sound. I can still hear him say "This is your Imperial Oil hockey broadcast". Turk Broda was in the nets for Toronto and Hewitt was at his best when he'd say "and BRODA clears╩it away..." with that emphasis to convey the╩excitement to us teen-age listeners.╩╩We'd have to retune the dial frequently as his voice died away, replaced by noise and static. Today's╩color╩TV with cable connections make it just too easy and╩just cannot convey the sense of awe and thrill we got from these far-away╩crackling, fading radio programs. Having been able to hear the games on╩CBL, which was somewhere near WOR, 710, on the dial, we also tried to receive the games from Montreal. We did succeed but unfortunately for us they were broadcast in French and the only thing we could understand was when the announcer called out "RICHARD...", referring of course to Maurice (the Rocket)╩Richard, the "Flying Frenchman" and Montreal's ace scorer.╩At least Foster Hewitt spoke our language, so we confined ourselves to Maple Leaf games only.╩Having listened to a number of people doing the play-by-play of hockey games, I'd say Hewitt was far and away the best ever. Not only did he know what to say but he knew how to say it. He's passed away a number of years now but I'm sure his voice is preserved somewhere on tape or "transcribed" on a vinyl record and can never really╩be lost.

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