Third writeup on attending an NBA home game, this time on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden (aka MGS). Funnily enough, this was actually the first NBA game I attended but it ended up being the last stadium I’m writing about.
Long story short: it’s a fantastic place to catch an NBA game.
- Getting there: Take the subway, get off at Penn Station.
- No bags: No bags.
- Plenty of stuff to buy, plenty of stalls. The entrance of MSG (ground level) already has three stalls selling Knicks merchandise. After you gain admission, there’s a few more stores scattered around the various levels with the main merchandise store at Gate 75. That’s the big one, where all the stuff you need is readily available.
- Advice: As always, avoid the post-game crowd and buy whatever you want before the game, you’re allowed to carry the stuff into the game anyway.
- Admission: Admission open 1.5 hours before the game. Plenty of chow and merchandise available so you can walk around the various gates and check things out. We sat all the way at the very top because we had cheap tickets, so we went a lot of rounds up the escalators to get to our seats.
- Photography: Fan photographers roaming around the ground level, so let them have a snap or two if you forgot your camera.
- In-game freebies: Knicks dancers and crew are the most generous of the lot, plenty of freebies are launched (tee shirts fired with a shoulder mounted launcher no shit) during timeouts so remember to go wild if you want something.
- Player autographs: No idea.
- Early exit: Worst of the lot. MSG has staircases and escalators but everyone gets jammed up everywhere, so unless you wait for the crowd to ease you’ll be stuck.
- Most importantly: Enjoy the game! The game intro is really great, atmosphere and fans are enthusiastic, what more could you wish for if you’re a Knicks fan? Even if you’re not, I reckon it’s still a great place to enjoy a game at.
My recent trip included a trip to Chicago for a Bulls game, so I thought it would be good to do a similar writeup on tips for any aspiring Bulls fans out there; once again assorted bits and pieces that I wanted to know before my trip but wasn’t readily available online.
- Getting there: You can walk or take the bus to the stadium itself. Be warned, it’s a pretty far walk.
- No bags: We didn’t see any notices about bags, there was just a guy at the entrance scanning tickets. The United Center Guest Access Guide says: “Entry Inspections – All guests entering the arena are subject to visual inspection, bag check, and metal detection conducted by United Center security.”
- The Bull Market merchandise shop at the ground level holds a variety of Bulls fan gear. Unfortunately, nothing of the older Bulls remain except for a Jordan rookie year jersey which probably costs a ton. This was pretty disappointing as I really wanted to get some Jordan merchandise (posters, jersey even?), but one of the staff we spoke to said it was because of brand coverage; the older players were under Nike, NBA is under Adidas now so that’s it.
- There are quite a few stalls scattered around the various levels of United Center selling merchandise, worth taking a look around to see if any gems remain. Each stall only has limited stock, and every one has no idea what the other stocks so you might find something worthwhile hidden. For example, I found a photograph of Jordan in the ’98 NBA Finals going at $35 at a stall, best buy of the night IMO.
- Advice: avoid the post-game crowd and buy whatever you want before the game, you’re allowed to carry the stuff into the game anyway.
- There’s a silent auction corner at the ground level which allows you to bid for vintage Bulls stuff (called Charita-Bulls), but you need to be willing to splurge to place bids. There’s some good stuff going at a cheap rate too; I got a pictorial of the ’98 Bulls titled “Portrait of an Era” at $10, what a steal.
- Do not head there on non-game days. The entire stadium is shut, like totally fenced off. You don’t get into United Center until 1.5 hours before game time, so don’t bother getting there any earlier unless you’re looking to take some pictures of the legendary Jordan statue at the main entrance. Go grab some chow at the Billy Goat Tavern (nearest eating spot IMO), have a few beers or something then head back to the entrance at the right time. Right time = 1830hrs if it’s a 2000hrs game.
- Photography: Oddly enough, we didn’t see any fan photographers. Would be good to remember that camera, or rely on your mobile phone.
- In-game freebies: The Bulls dancers and crew will be hurling freebies during timeouts so act crazy, cheer hard and something might fly your way! There is a little booklet with coupons that can be redeemed if you win the mini-games during halftimes. One of the coupons is pretty cool, it offers a free Big Mac at participating MacDonald’s restaurants if the Bulls win and score above 100 points.
- Player autographs: No idea.
- Early exit: United Center tends to get jammed up at the escalators, but once that’s done with you are pretty much home free since there are plenty of exits.
- Most importantly: Let yourself go, enjoy the game!
Hope these tips help someone in need! Leave a comment if you appreciate the post, cheers. Suggestions on improving the post would be welcome too.