The World's Most Famous Arena
The image of a sports facility is very important to managing facility operations. After all, customers are spending their disposable income on an intangible product. When customers buy a ticket to a sports event, they are purchasing a good time, or a memory. They are not buying the team, but a nice night out that they can look back on. To make this a pleasurable memory, facility managers need to maintain a positive image of their facilities.
This paper is a discussion of “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden. Madison Square Garden (MSG) is the home of three professional sports teams: The New York Rangers of the National Hockey League, The New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, and the New York Liberty of the Women’s National Basketball Association. However, you do not become the world’s most famous arena just by having three professional sports teams. Madison Square Garden (MSG) is a multi-purpose facility that is also home to numerous events,concerts, trade shows, meetings, conferences and other special events.
Publicity and Public Relations
Two important functions for maintaining the image of a facility are publicity and public relations. Publicity is getting the word out about your facility and generating buzz for free. MSG is always mentioned in the paper for one reason or another. Whether it is mentioned as the venue for the professional sports teams listed above, or as a special event where Billy Graham was the speaker, MSG is always talked about in the New York media.
The public relations department also does a good job in working with their advertising people and promoters, and sponsors of events. When there is a special event going on, the public relations department is always working to maintain a positive image for the facility. For example, if Ringling Brothers Circus comes to town, there are always ample public relations opportunities. For example, the media always covers the elephants walking through the Holland Tunnel on the way to MSG. In addition, clowns go to local hospitals to visit sick children. Sponsors, such as American Express will always be mentioned, and the media is always alerted to the charity work that MSG is a part of.
The public relations department also does a great job with what MSG officials call, the Cheering for Children program. This program is a comprehensive MSG charity devoted to helping children in the New York City area. This goes a long way with fans in bolstering the image of MSG. Athletes from the professional sports teams, singers from concerts, and even the performers from the circus get into the act of charitable giving.
All good facilities have great relationships with the local media. New York City is one of the largest sports markets in the world. MSG works in conjunction with the various media outlets to cover the games and events in a way that only New Yorkers can understand. There are physical places for the media to cover the games from, complete with top of the line communications technology in order for the reporters to stay on top of what is going on and report in a timely fashion.
Television, radio and print media personnel are always in attendance for all of the sports games. There is also ample coverage of other events, provided the event is newsworthy. The media supports the facility image by mentioning the venue in their reports. MSG has a great rapport with all of the numerous media outlets in the New York City area.
Promoters and Politicians
Madison Square Garden has always worked in conjunction with promoters to bring popular events into the facility. The circus was mentioned previously, but there are so many events that are heavily attended. The reasons for this are varied. MSG is in a convenient location in mid-town Manhattan. They have luxury boxes and all the amenities of a world-class facility. Everyone who has ever performed has wanted to “play the Garden”. MSG is committed to bringing in quality acts and entertainment for the entire family, not just sports.
When you talk about the political climate, MSG has clout. There was a major debate going on in New York City between various parties for a stadium on the West-side of Manhattan. Politicians were interested in the stadium project because it would have lured bigger sporting events, such as the Super Bowl and the Olympics. However, MSG officials were against it. The main reason is that they would have to compete for the discretionary income of fans. This is true despite the fact that teams that were to play in the stadium were not direct competitors of MSG teams. MSG and its parent company, Cablevision, spent millions of dollars just to make sure that the stadium project did not happen, and guess what? It didn’t. The stadium project was scrapped in June.
What sets MSG apart from other venues is its great web site. The web site lists every aspect of the arena. There are links from renting the Garden, to media clips of the events. They talk about their charitable efforts and have a newsletter that keeps customers interested in what events are coming to the Garden. It is through the web site that they can keep a positive facility image.
Of course, all facilities are in business to make money. A consumer may purchase tickets through the web site, through a partnership with TicketMaster. One can also view seating charts for different events before deciding on the type of tickets to buy. Additionally, the hours of operation to their own box office are listed as well. The web site also shows other affiliations to other venues, such as the Hartford Civic Arena, and Radio City Music Hall. Finally, numerous sponsors are listed on the web site, including the names of promoters for specific events.
Madison Square Garden is one of the best arenas in the United States. Of course, that is not a scientific conclusion. However, based on all of the criteria that facility textbooks list for creating and maintaining a good facility image, MSG possesses those and even more. If you don’t believe, you may tour the facility almost any day of the year. Numerous people have attended numerous events at MSG and have never been disappointed. Of course, that does not include the many who have been disappointed by the play of the New York Rangers who have not been in the playoffs for over eight years, but you can’t blame that on the facility. In fact, whenever the NHL gets back on the ice fans will probably return to MSG.