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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again: Knicks, Rangers Giving New York ’94 Vibes

  • The teams’ ongoing playoff runs recall New York’s celebrated spring of 1994.
  • Ticket resale prices surge for the Knicks and Rangers as fan frenzy is building fast.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost like the spring of 1994 again at Madison Square Garden, and New York fans are responding in kind. 

Both the NBA’s Knicks and NHL’s Rangers have reached the second round of their respective playoff series, the first time that has happened since 2013 and just the second since 1997. But even more than the mere synchronization of competitive teams, the Knicks are playing their best basketball in more than decade, fueling a series of attendance and revenue gains for MSG Sports, while the Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular-season team this year.

If the teams’ respective postseason runs continue, it could echo the city’s famous period three decades ago, when the Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years while the Knicks advanced to the NBA Finals, losing a hard-fought, seven-game series to the Rockets that was disrupted in part by coverage of the low-speed police chase of O.J. Simpson. The Knicks and Rangers were both central parts of a celebrated 2010 ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, “June 17, 1994.”

Now, the Knicks will face the Pacers in the second round of the playoffs, with those two teams having battled in a particularly epic seven-game Eastern Conference finals in 1994. As Knicks fever is quickly rising, resale ticket prices are beginning at more than $300 for the first game of the series Monday at MSG, with most lower-bowl inventory costing at least twice that much. 

MSG Return

The opening of the series with Indiana will be a homecoming after the Knicks’ fan support on the road helped prompt the 76ers to buy their own tickets and donate them in order to prevent New York fans from accessing them. 

“We feel we have the best fans in the world. They travel. They go with us wherever we go,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau after the team overcame that Philadelphia maneuver and clinched a six-game series win.

The Rangers, meanwhile, quickly dispatched the Capitals in a first-round sweep, and are now facing the Hurricanes, who were at one point the betting up favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Get-in pricing for the Rangers’ series opener Sunday at the Garden, a 4-3 New York victory, began at $250, with a similar near-doubling in price for lower-bowl seats.

The New York teams’ playoffs runs are also set to become a further boost for Knicks and Rangers owner James Dolan, already riding a high from the initial success of the Sphere in Las Vegas, which debuted last fall as a jaw-dropping spectacle, was quickly embraced by multiple sports properties, and has seen successful concert residencies from U2 and Phish. 

On Thursday, MSG Sports reported fiscal third-quarter financials showing a 12% bump in revenue to $430 million and a 3% increase in adjusted operating income, fueled by the improved results of both teams.

“Our third-quarter results reflect solid operating performance across our business, driven by ongoing enthusiasm for the Knicks and Rangers,” Dolan said.

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