Madison Square Garden, Legendary Wrestling Mecca, Forced to Move
For generations, Madison Square Garden has been a mecca for the professional wrestling industry.
Built on the back of the legendary Bruno Sammartino, the World's Most Famous Arena has been home to some of the greatest moments in wrestling history and has a particularly close relationship with the WWF/WWE.
MSG has hosted three WrestleManias, including the inaugural event. The WWF returned for its 10- and 20-year anniversaries for the event. This past year for WrestleMania 29, Triple H insisted the company hold the Hall of Fame ceremony in the historic arena, even though the event had outgrown MSG in audience capacity. Fittingly, Sammartino headlined the Garden one more time.
MSG was where Hulk Hogan won his first WWF title, defeating the Iron Sheik in less than six minutes. Since it's this time of the year, it's worth noting that the first SummerSlam was held in MSG.
Now, according to the Associated Press (h/t USA Today), the historic arena has been given notice that it will not have its lease renewed after the current agreement expires in 10 years:
The New York City Council voted Wednesday to limit Madison Square Garden's permit at its current spot above Penn Station to 10 years — a decision cheered by civic organizations campaigning to move the home of the Knicks and Rangers so the busy station can be renovated.
The owners of the Garden had wanted to operate at the site in perpetuity, while the city planning commission recommended a 15-year extension.
Organizations hoping Madison Square Garden will move to another location applauded the 47-1 City Council vote limiting the arena's permit.
WWE could always count on great crowds in New York, one of the most notorious wrestling fanbases in the country. As the company has grown, other major metropolitan areas have developed similar reputations for extensive product knowledge and vocally expressing their opinions. Chicago, Baltimore and Philadelphia are among the best as well.
In a recent column on Grantland, wrestling writer The Masked Man discussed the WWE's recent trip to Brooklyn, where they sold out the new Barclays Center on its first visit to the acclaimed arena. The writer suggested that as WWE continues to evolve, and Brooklyn itself increasingly becomes a destination, the Barclays Center could replace MSG as the aforementioned "mecca" for pro wrestling:
Don't get me wrong — MSG still has decades of history behind it, but, sitting in Barclays, watching Raw on Monday, I was more than a little convinced. I've never seen the ushers at a wrestling event so excited to be working. Barclays employees at the entrance to my section were discussing the details of every feud each time I walked by, and as I left the arena I heard two older men at the VIP entrance talking about the "good old days" with "Andre the Giant and Bruno." Brooklyn has these old-guard supporters, but most importantly its image is hip, young, vital — everything the WWE's faux-new power structure wants to portray itself as. (And that's not strictly a knock on Triple H and Steph — Brooklyn's got a borderline monopoly on all things faux.)
Nothing will ever change the great memories we have watching wrestling shows at MSG, whether in person or from our seat on the couch. These new changes, though, encourage me to make a pilgrimage to the wrestling mecca sometime before the old lady is forced to move.
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