Since the 1800s, Madison Square Garden has hosted circuses, political conventions, dog shows, professional sports drafts, boxing matches, concerts, and a ton of basketball and hockey games. Its impressive list of tenants and visitors has made the arena a beloved fixture in New York City. And as with many sports venues, it boasts an amazing home-court advantage for local teams.
Quantifying Home Advantage
Home advantage (whether you’re talking about home court or home ice) is an easy thing to sum up and quantify. In the case of Madison Square Garden and two of its well-known tenants, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers, the advantage is worth noting. The Knicks show a 60.31 win percent playing at home in the Garden, which is 10.76 percentage points better than their career winning percentage. In fact, if they played every game at home during the course of a season, they’d notch 50 wins (or an equivalent, if the season happens to be shorter than 82 games) every year – something they’ve only accomplished 13 times over the course of their 70-season history.
Likewise, the Rangers also have an at-home win percentage greater than their overall win value – 49.30 percent. It’s a rate that’s 11.60 percentage points greater than their career winning percent. This translates to a 40-win season if all games are played at home during the course of a full season, which is a feat they’ve managed to achieve 15 times since 1968.
The Difference Is in the Differential
Home advantage often works in the team’s favor no matter if they win or lose, which can show in the point differential when comparing losing efforts with winning outings. During home games of the New York Knicks, for example, their point differential average is around 1.75 points greater in winning decisions when compared with their average differential in losing games.
The Rangers also notably have a higher point average overall than their opponents do during games at the Garden, no matter if they win or lose. In winning efforts, they enjoy a greater point differential than during losing efforts, which also reflects a home-ice advantage – 2.56 average point differential in winning contests, compared to -2.21 in losing matches.
All About the Garden
Madison Square Garden, also affectionately known as “The Mecca of Basketball,” “MSG,” “The Garden,” and “The World’s Most Famous Arena” is located in the Manhattan borough of New York City at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza. With a capacity of 19,830 for basketball, and 18,024 for hockey (the discrepancy due to court and rink sizes), it’s a premiere destination for sports fans, and an obvious haunt for fans of the home teams. If you’re going, forget driving – Madison Square Garden does not provide parking, although area parking garages do participate in prepaid parking voucher programs.
The arena is conveniently located directly above Penn Station, making it easy to access via public transit – Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, and PATH provide access to the venue by train. The subway lines 1, 2, 3, A, C, and E run to 34th Street-Penn Station. The B, N, F, V, N, R, Q, and W lines to 34th Street-Herald Square station (and a walk one block west) provide access as well.
MSG was originally built as the New York and Harlem Railroad depot before being converted into P.T. Barnum’s Hippodrome. This first incarnation hosted the first Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 1877. The property was then purchased by William Vanderbilt in 1879 and renamed Madison Square Garden.
New Yorkers enjoyed checking out presidential rallies, elephant shows, boxing exhibitions, and cycling competitions in this space before Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan bought the building, demolished it, and rebuilt it on the same site in 1890.
In 1925, the Garden was again demolished and replaced by the New York Life building, and a new Garden was opened at 8th Avenue and West 50th Street. Eventually, this location fell out of favor and was closed (and once again, torn down) in 1967. A new structure, the current Garden, was then built above Penn Station.
Today, the world-renowned arena not only hosts the Knicks and the Rangers, but the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, the Big East tournament, and the NIT finals. MSG has also played host to major presidential speeches and political conventions. It has hosted both NFL and NBA drafts as well.
The long, colorful history of Madison Square Garden has a treasured place in the hearts of New Yorkers as well as people everywhere. The unquestionable home-court advantage also makes this a favorite of the local sports teams. But if you want to see if for yourself, you’ll need to check it out within the next seven years – its status is currently threatened by Penn Station renovations, and will be rebuilt in a new location for a fifth time by 2023.
Home games are determined after pulling data from Pro Sports Reference and removing records of any games at another venue.
For the New York Knicks, home-win percentage is total wins divided by the sum of total wins and total losses. For the New York Rangers, home-win percentage is wins divided by the sum or wins, losses, and ties.