Wylde: Don't short-circuit MSG's plans for future
Last month, the Partnership for New York City published the NYC Jobs Blueprint, which lays out what city leaders must do to create a full-employment economy. One key: The government must protect and leverage the city's assets, including the anchor institutions that define our global brand and power our key industries.
Madison Square Garden is one of those assets, contributing more than $500 million a year to the tourism industry and employing 6,000 people in mostly middle-wage jobs. Sitting atop Penn Station, it attracts more than 4 million people a year, including many visitors from outside the five boroughs.
The Garden is undergoing a billion-dollar transformation. To complete this transformation into a modern, high-tech arena, the Garden requires approvals from the City Planning Commission and the New York City Council for a long-term permit to continue to operate at its current location.
Sadly, a handful of advocacy groups are seeking to use the approval process to ensure that the Garden is on a short leash when it comes to accommodating future development in the area. They want to restrict the Garden's permit to only 10 years, so it can be forced to relocate if the long-delayed conversion of the Farley Post Office into Moynihan Station should ever come to fruition. This, even though today in New York City, virtually all use permits are granted without terms.
MSG management demonstrated its willingness to be part of the Moynihan plan when it was proposed, and postponed its own renovation by three years in anticipation of a project that did not happen. Now it needs the support of the community to proceed with its business plan and to sustain its contribution to jobs and economic activity in the city.
Failure to approve the Garden's permit on a long-term basis would jeopardize its business in hope that a transit hub for which there is neither current funding nor a realistic timetable will move forward.
Successful, thriving enterprises need to continually invest in their businesses, and they need the ability to enter into long-term commitments with confidence in the fairness and predictability of their regulatory environment. It is precisely that kind of continued investment and forward thinking that allows businesses such as MSG to help expand New York City's economy and create jobs. MSG cannot operate, invest and plan effectively for the future with artificial deadlines.
The Garden should be awarded its long-term permit, along with authorization for related improvements, so that this iconic facility can continue to contribute to the economic vitality of the city.
Kathryn Wylde is the president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, a business organization that represents the city's business leadership and its largest private sector employers. The Dolan family is the majority owner of both Madison Square Garden and Cablevision, which is the parent company of amNewYork.