Hochtief wins Madison Square Garden deal

Hochtief has won a contract to transform New York's Madison Square Garden, which a unit of the German construction group built more than 40 years ago, it said on Friday.

Hochtief wins Madison Square Garden deal
Photo: DPA

Hochtief’s Turner subsidiary is to manage a “full-scale transformation” of the iconic New York arena used for basketball, ice hockey, big boxing bouts, political conventions, concerts and other events, a statement said.

No amount was given but industry sources have said the work, due to take place during three consecutive summer periods, would cost around $775 million (€601 million).

Turner built the original structure in 1968, and will now create “a new entrance and wider concourses with views of the city,” the statement said.

A major new element will be two bridges that measure 61 metres (yards) in length and span the space, providing fans with a view from 21 meters above the playing surface.

Sight lines inside the cavernous arena are also to be improved and more comfortable seating installed, while lower level suites are to be enlarged and moved closer to the action.

A new scoreboard, state-of-the-art lighting and LED video systems are also in the works, along with renovated food areas and television broadcasting sites. Turner will also restore the Garden’s distinctive domed ceiling, Hochtief said.

According to the New York Times, the arena will be shut down each year after the New York Knicks basketball team and the Rangers ice hockey team close out their seasons.

Work is to begin in 2011 and be completed in 2013.

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Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden

The German government on Friday welcomed a decision by President Joe Biden to put on hold plans to reduce US troops in Germany, saying their presence was in the countries' mutual interest.

Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden
An American soldier stationed in Germany, in front of Dresden's Military History Museum in 2016. Photo: DPA

“We have always been convinced that American troops being stationed here in Germany serves European and transatlantic security and hence is in our mutual interest,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

As part of a major foreign and security policy overhaul presented Thursday, Biden announced a freeze on plans set in motion by his predecessor Donald Trump to reduce the US troop presence in Germany, a cornerstone of NATO security since the start of the Cold War.

READ ALSO: What could Joe Biden as US president mean for Germany?

Trump's decision was seen as linked to his tense relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and his frequent complaints that Europe's top economy spent too little on defence.

The United States has had US troops stationed in Germany since World War II but their numbers have declined since the fall of the Berlin Wall from some 200,000 soldiers in 1990 to 34,500 today.

Although the prospect had been looming for years, Trump's decision in July to redeploy 12,000 soldiers from Germany still came as a shock, particularly to towns that have built strong economic and cultural ties to the US military.

READ ALSO: Trump to withdraw 'thousands of US soldiers from Germany' under Biden

“We strongly value the close, decades-long cooperation with the American troops stationed in Germany,” Seibert said.

He said the communities hosting GIs appreciated their presence, calling the bases “part of the lived transatlantic friendship”.  

Seibert said German officials were in “consultations” with the US administration about “further planning” but that the decision how to shape the future American military footprint in Europe was a “US domestic issue”.