MSG Entertainment seeking permanent special operating permit for Madison Square Garden

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Madison Square Garden, home to the New York Knicks and Rangers.
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MSG Entertainment announced on Thursday that it had submitted its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application to the New York City Department of City Planning in hopes of obtaining a special operating permit “in perpetuity” — meaning forever — for Madison Square Garden. Thus, attempting to cement its roots at its current location at 4 Pennsylvania Plaza in midtown. 

Its current 10-year permit expires on July 24.

The longtime home of the New York Knicks and Rangers was built in the early 1960s, demolishing the street-level Penn Station building, forcing NYC commuters into the now-renovated underground labyrinth multiple generations have been forced to tolerate. 

With it came the enforcement of what Gothamist described as an “obscure city zoning law” that requires any arena within the Big Apple containing more than 2,500 seats to receive a special permit from the city. However, MSG Entertainment claims that the Garden is the only major sporting venue in the city that needs such a permit.

“Madison Square Garden employs thousands of people, serves as a significant driver of the economy generating nearly $2 billion in annual economic benefit to the City, and is home to the most important sports, entertainment and cultural events,” MSG Entertainment’s release read. “No other major stadium or arena in NYC has ever been required to obtain a special permit to operate, and the Company believes it is only appropriate for NYC’s special permit process to be fair and consistent.”

The initial permit for the building, given in 1963, was for 50 years. Upon its expiration and under the pressure of those hoping to see Penn Station restored to its pre-1960s grandeur, the city council gave MSG Entertainment just a 10-year permit. 

In order for such a Penn Station dream to come true, though, the Garden would have to be torn down and a fifth variation of the venue would be built elsewhere in the city.

“Calls from various parties that link the extension of the permit with an opportunity to move The Garden are misguided,” MSG Entertainment statement read. “The Company believes ongoing confusion about ownership of The Garden has contributed to attempts to use the special permit process to fuel discussions surrounding completely unrealistic efforts to move The Garden. The fact is, MSG Entertainment has full ownership of the arena, the land it sits on, and the air above it – there is no public lease of any kind.”

According to Empire State Development, any relocation of Madison Square Garden, per the release, would cost an estimated $8.5 billion in public funding.

For more on Madison Square Garden, visit AMNY.com