The new version of Madison Square Garden is ready, but are the Knicks?

Kelly Dwyer

When it came time to try to develop a fourth incarnation of Madison Square Garden in the early 1960s, well, it was time. There was quite a bit of consternation (as some fans of the television series "Mad Men" might recall) to tearing down the former Pennsylvania Station building in order to build an all-purpose arena in Manhattan, but nobody questioned the fact that the third version of MSG (located in Hell's Kitchen) was in a total state of disrepair.

The fourth version? Well, up until recently it hasn't been the sweetest-smelling place to see a concert, basketball or hockey game; but nobody wanted to let go of that location (rife with public transport, but near enough to the giants of industry in Manhattan), and that feel of the latest version of MSG, opened in 1969. And that's coming from a native Chicagoan.

So it was quite a relief to hear of plans last year to merely update MSG IV, instead of tearing it down. And though this is just phase one of a three-year plan, the remodeling has already taken shape. Watch the video, courtesy of Newsday:

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As Neil Best of Newsday points out, though, New York won't be seeing its Knicks anytime soon. The preseason and first two weeks of the regular season have been canceled, and the entire 2011-12 NBA season is in jeopardy unless both the players and owners cease to be butt-hurt (excuse my informality, but I do believe that to be the correct term), and get back to the negotiating table to finish this lockout off.

Here are some important details on the project, thanks to Best:

Crews worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the summer on the project. Ratner said it is on time and within its projected budget. Estimated cost is expected to be about $975 million.

The first phase replaced and reconfigured the lower seating bowl, including 20 new "Event Level Suites'' and a club for other premium seat owners (from which fans can watch the teams enter and exit the playing area).

But Ratner said a high priority was amenities available to everyone, notably the vastly expanded main sixth-floor concourse and new eighth-floor and 10th-floor areas with views of the arena.

These are the "blue seats" that Ratner was referring to in the video, created for cheaper tickets, but offering better (eventual) sightlines at affordable prices.

Likely due for next year, just in time for the next Knicks game.