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MSG executives unveil plan for renovation

Madison Square Garden executives Thursday unveiled a $500-million plan to renovate the inside of the arena and declared that they will not consider any plan to move from the existing site.

"We are committed to moving forward," said Hank Ratner, vice chairman of the Garden and Cablevision. "Our fans will get everything they want here. We are not going to be moving."

The Garden announced last week that it was pulling out of a proposed plan to build a new arena across the street at the Farley Post Office, to the dismay of city and state officials who felt a new Garden was the key to an economic development project on the west side of Manhattan.

The Garden's current plan is to use Cablevision funds to turn the inside of the arena into a state-of-the-art facility in time for the 2011-12 Rangers and Knicks seasons.

Work will begin in the spring of 2009 and be done primarily over the summers of 2009 and 2010, likely displacing the WNBA's Liberty for all or part of their seasons. No Knicks or Rangers games will be moved.

Brisbin, Brook and Benyon, the Toronto-based architecture firm that designed the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre in that city as well as the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, will oversee the renovation.

Plans call for turning the Seventh Avenue entrance into a glass-enclosed atrium with 25-foot ceilings. The redesign will more than double the public space in the concourses, add floor- and mid-level suites and remove the cross-walkways between levels of seats. The seating capacity will remain the same.

Despite the chorus of disapproval from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Sen. Chuck Schumer last week, Ratner said the renovation will go forward.

"We are all for the development of Moynihan Station and the west side," Ratner said, "but what we feel is best for the nearly four million New Yorkers who attend our events is a renovated Madison Square Garden."

New York Sports