A key New York City Council committee has agreed to renew Madison Square Garden’s private operating permit for five years—five years less than the city recommended and many years less than owner James Dolan demanded.
In a preliminary vote Monday afternoon, the City Council’s Land Use Committee approved a five-year permit for Madison Square Garden, noting long-term plans to redesign Penn Station — which sits beneath the 22,000-seat arena — and ongoing struggles over use between Madison Square Garden and the Transit Center deny long-term permit approval.
“Because of this usage conflict, the board cannot at this time determine the long-term viability of the plaza at this location. So five years is the appropriate length of time for this permit,” said council member Eric Butcher, whose Manhattan borough includes Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. The approval of the permit also requires the development of a Transportation Management Plan that aims to resolve the conflict between pedestrian access to Penn Station and truck loading operations at the park.
The full council is expected to vote to approve the permit at its meeting scheduled for next month.
The Dolan family, which owns Madison Square Garden, has long advocated for a permanent operating permit. After the original 50-year permit expired in 2013, the city approved a 10-year permit. With that permit expiring this year, Dolan once again pressured the authority to operate the 22,000-seat arena above Penn Station in perpetuity.
but City, local legislators and the Local community council They supported alternative plans for much shorter passes, with the stipulation that the arena owners cooperate in the redesign of Penn Station.
Last month, the City Planning Commission recommended that Madison Square Garden’s permit be renewed at its current location for 10 years. Added requirements That the park contribute to public realm improvements in the area, including new entrances to Penn Station and a truck ban on 33rd Street, as well as being generally compatible with the planned redesign of Penn Station.
The plan approved by the city council’s land-use committee Monday afternoon is to amend the city’s recommendation, shortening the renewal grace period to five years and removing some of the conditions the city planning committee attached to its recommendation.
“The short-term private permit is not in anyone’s interest and undermines the ability to immediately renovate Penn Station and the surrounding area,” Madison Square Garden Entertainment said in a statement after the vote. “The commissions have done a great disservice to New Yorkers today, in a short-sighted move that will further contribute to the erosion of the city – and that is true now and it will be true five years from now.”
The ongoing negotiations over the board amendment, which included Butcher, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Department of City Planning and park representatives, continued until Monday afternoon. Council committee hearings scheduled for Monday afternoon were delayed by more than three hours due to ongoing negotiations, according to a council spokesperson.
The mayor’s office and the MTA have advocated for an approach that would renew the permit for two years, and then another eight years if the park meets conditions that show it cooperates with Penn Station’s redesign plans, according to a council source. If he does not meet the conditions stipulated in that plan, the permit will only be renewed for another three years. finally, Distinguished Butcher Renewing for five consecutive years is the simplest approach.
The plan approved by the council’s land-use committee will still need to be approved by the full city council at its announced Sept. 14 meeting.
The failure to obtain a permanent operating permit isn’t necessarily surprising, but it is another blow to Dolan, who recently found himself in the crosshairs of New York lawmakers. Dolan’s use of facial recognition has barred lawyers in lawsuits against his firm from entering the arena I caught a violent reaction From legislators and state attorney general Letitia James. Some state lawmakers have also pushed for it eliminate Park property tax exemption.