The world's top-grossing arena, Madison Square Garden in New York, is headed for an extreme makeover.

The world's top-grossing arena, Madison Square Garden in New York, is headed for an extreme makeover. The venerable arena "has started the process of a major renovation to create a state-of-the art facility and will do it without taxpayer money," says a statement from the venue.

Requests For Proposals (RFPs) from Garden owner Cablevision have gone out in air search for a design firm to spearhead the renovation of the 20,697-capacity Garden. The project is estimated in some published reports to cost as much as $370 million.

A source who has seen the RFP tells Billboard.biz that the plan calls for work on the project to begin in October 2006 and conclude in time for the 2008-09 basketball and hockey seasons. The plan also stipulates that the building be open for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons of Garden tenants the New York Knicks and Rangers, meaning most of the major construction will take place in the summer months.

Most agents feel concert tours would be routed to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., or Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., in the event the Garden is not available. Superstar acts in the past have sometimes played all three venues.

The project would include new seating, construction of a box office, new luxury suites and a new entrance. The Garden opened at its current location in 1968 and was last remodeled in 1989, when suites and the 5,610-seat Theatre at Madison Square Garden were added.

Madison Square Garden is the No. 1 arena in the world in terms of generating box office revenue. MSG has topped the Billboard Boxscores list of top-grossing arenas for four years running, last year reporting $57.8 million from 106 concert/entertainment events. The Theatre was the fourth-ranked venue of its size at more than $18 million from 120 shows.

The competitive dynamic of the area's touring market could change considerably if proposed new arena projects in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Newark, N.J., come to fruition.