As the Rangers wend their way back from parts west and the Knicks visit preseason hoops hotbeds from Providence to Green Bay, Madison Square Garden at last is nearing the finish line of its three-year, $1-billion renovation.
Make that "transformation" in official Garden parlance, a nod to the magnitude of the makeover.
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There are 10 days to get the final touches in place before the Knicks host the Bobcats in a preseason game Oct. 25, followed by the Rangers' home opener against the Canadiens on Oct. 28.
And though there are plenty of touches to complete -- more on that later -- the one that has generated the most interest by far is the "Chase Bridges," pictures of which the Garden made public for the first time yesterday.
They reveal a pair of gleaming glass-walled structures suspended from the ceiling on the north and south ends of the arena, each 233 feet long and 22 feet wide, seating a combined 430 fans plus media, including TV announcers for hockey.
The Garden is not yet offering the seats as full-season ticket plans. They are being sold as partial-season plans for $130 to $150 per game and $110 for individual games, most of which sold quickly sight unseen.
The most common misconception about the bridges is that they overhang the playing surface. In fact, they are over other seating areas but are designed not to interfere with the views of fans in the upper bowl.
There is a concourse behind the seats that allows access to the bridges, even for those without tickets for those sections.
For all the fascination with the bridges since the start of the three-summer project, MSG officials have emphasized other elements of the project's final stage.
Two of the most noticeable will be a new scoreboard and a thoroughly rebuilt entrance lobby off Seventh Avenue.
There also are a number of historical touches, including two areas called 1968 North and 1968 South that will re-create the arena's original look, complete with vintage advertisements.
The Garden also will unveil the last 10 of its "Defining Moments" displays, from one honoring the original Garden opening on May 31, 1879, to the "12-12-12" concert of last Dec. 12, a fundraiser for superstorm Sandy relief.
Yet another will look back at Game 4 of the 1973 Eastern Conference finals between the Knicks and Celtics, a 117-110 double-overtime victory for the Knicks en route to their second and still most recent NBA title.
Some of the material for the exhibit -- notably game-worn Pumas from Walt Frazier himself -- came to the Knicks from Michael Meese, a ball boy during that championship season.
Meese, now 55, said his mother, Doris, was a cousin of the late Knicks president Ned Irish, a connection that led to the ball boy job and a friendship with trainer Danny Whelan that evolved into a career as an orthopedic surgeon.
Forty years later, Meese still sounded awestruck as he described the trip to Boston for Game 7 and joining Irish in Red Auerbach's office, where they encountered Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn.
Meese collected various artifacts during that era, including the Frazier sneakers, a Dick Barnett jacket and Whelan's orange warm-ups. For four decades, they sat in a "humidified, ventilated storage place" near his mother's Florida home.
Knowing his connection to Whelan, a Knicks official asked if he might have anything to donate to the cause of the Garden's historical exhibits. Bingo.
Meese said the Garden made it clear this would be a donation, not a loan, which was fine with him.
"It's for infinity," he said. "This stuff belongs to the Garden."
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