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Madison Square Garden alters timeline for renovations

Madison Square Garden's renovation won't be completed until 2012, a slightly altered timeline announced Tuesday than the one Garden executives put forth a year ago in introducing a $500-million overhaul of the arena.

"We made sure to get the planning right, because we don't want to change it midway through," said MSG and Cablevision vice chairman Hank Ratner, who Tuesday showed off to reporters the Garden's Presentation Center, a state-of-the-art area near the Seventh Avenue entrance that will open this summer to give fans a preview of the renovations.

Work has not yet begun on the renovation, though roughly 150 MSG Network and Garden facilities employees will move across the street to 11 Penn Plaza so that their offices can be converted into concourse space in the revamped arena.

The Garden is owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.

Ratner said the lower bowl of the Garden will be fully renovated - with 20 new event-level suites and 58 new lower-level suites - in time for the 2011-12 Rangers and Knicks seasons, with the upper bowl completed prior to the 2012-13 season. Last year, Garden executives had said the entire project, which will be done during the offseasons of the Knicks and Rangers, would be completed in time for the 2011-12 season.

The openings of Yankee Stadium and Citi Field this season and the new football stadium for the Giants and Jets in 2010 have given Garden executives a preview of what fans may approve or disapprove of, particularly when it comes to sightlines and, of course, ticket and suite prices.

"We get to learn some lessons from what other people have done," Ratner said.

The Garden renovation will be done by Turner Construction, which did work on the new Yankee Stadium.

But in addition to avoiding some of the pitfalls that have brought some bad publicity for the Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets, Garden executives feel their renovation will bring about a completely different experience for fans. "This is not 10 football games or 81 baseball games," MSG president Scott O'Neil said. "We have 265 events to offer here."

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