James Dolan is turning to a familiar face to help with the public relations blowback over Madison Square Garden’s use of facial recognition software. The Knicks, Rangers and MSG owner has hired former Donald Trump communications director Hope Hicks, according to multiple reports.
The World’s Most Famous Arena and Dolan have come under heavy fire over the controversial use of the technology to keep out certain fans out of Madison Square Garden and its affiliated venues. The practice, Dolan claims, is strictly meant to prevent entry for lawyers who are currently suing his company, but has drawn the ire of local politicians and New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
An MSG spokesperson would not confirm or deny the report to the New York Post or New York Daily News. “We work with a variety of consultants across the company,” the spokesperson told both outlets.
Hicks had served as the White House communications director under the Trump Administration until she resigned in 2018 to work as Fox Corporation’s Chief communications executive. She returned to the administration in 2020 as a White House aide and counselor to the president.
It is unknown how long she has been advising Dolan and Madison Square Garden.
The MSG boss went on a media blitz last week to defend his use of facial recognition in interviews on FOX 5’s Good Day New York and WFAN’s Carton and Roberts. Dolan even went as far as to threaten to halt the sale of alcohol at a future Rangers game in a threat to the State Liquor Authority, which is looking into whether the Garden is in violation of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Law.
“They’re doing this for publicity, so we’re gonna give them some publicity,” Dolan said on FOX 5. “What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna pick a night, maybe a Rangers game, and we’re gonna shut down all the liquor and alcohol in the building.”
He later added: “Now, this isn’t gonna bother me because I’ve been sober 29 years. I don’t need the liquor.”
Albany lawmakers are considering a law that would make Dolan’s retaliation tactics illegal.