Garden cleared for Friday's game

Updated: November 5, 2010, 9:38 AM ET
ESPNNewYork.com

Although the New York Knicks had explored an alternate venue as a backup, Madison Square Garden has been cleared to host their Friday game against the Wizards, the team announced on Wednesday night.

Tuesday night's game between the Knicks and Magic was postponed due to a fear that asbestos was released into the arena during a cleaning process. But testing later revealed that dangerous particles did not get into the seating areas.

"After receiving assurance from the city and environmental experts regarding the safety of the arena for our customers and employees, all events at Madison Square Garden, beginning with Friday night's Knicks game, will go on as scheduled," the team said in a statement. "We have been working with the appropriate experts to confirm the arena is safe since debris fell during overnight work Monday."

The Knicks had reached out to the Prudential Center to see if they could use the home of the New Jersey Nets in case the Garden cleanup wasn't completed in time, a source close to the situation told ESPNNewYork.com earlier Wednesday.

An official with the Prudential Center told the Newark Star-Ledger that Garden officials felt confident they could clean up in time, but "if it gets on past Thursday, the Knicks said they'll get back to the people in Newark."

The New Jersey Devils are scheduled to play the New York Rangers on Friday at the Prudential Center and would not have been willing to reschedule their game, the Star-Ledger reported, citing another anonymous official.

The Knicks would have had to play in the early afternoon to give arena workers ample time to convert the playing surface for the Devils game, the source told ESPNNewYork.com.

Splitting concessions had even been considered and not found to be a problem.

Prudential Center spokesman Bob Sommer had said that one Garden team, the WNBA's New York Liberty, will already play in the arena this summer while MSG undergoes renovations.

"Because we have a great working relationship with them, with what we've done with the Liberty, we've got tons of respect for them," Sommer said of the Knicks, according to the Star-Ledger. "And we will help them in whatever way we can."

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni was surprised when the team was sent home on Tuesday.

"It was pretty bizarre," he said. "I've had 'em canceled for snow every once in a while. But nothing from cleaning it up. So, it happens. I'm just glad the progress down there keeps going on so we'll have a new [renovated] arena pretty soon. But I don't think it changes anything. We get ready for Chicago tomorrow."

He joked that players weren't too concerned about debris at the Garden on Tuesday.

"No. It was either Dwight Howard or breathing bad material," he said.

The Knicks were apparently not interested in another New Jersey facility: the Izod Center.

The former home of the Nets is basketball-ready and would have been available on Friday night, according to a spokesman for the New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority, which controls the arena. "It's logistically feasible," NJSEA spokesman John Samerjan said. "We'd certainly be willing to cooperate." The Knicks hadn't contacted the Izod Center as of Wednesday morning, according to Samerjan.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday that even though there was no health risk, the operators of Madison Square Garden deserve credit for putting fan safety first.

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley, ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

ALSO SEE

MORE NBA HEADLINES