MSG to move in 15 years?

May 25, 2013, by
Could MSG be on the move?

Could MSG be on the move?

With just six months left until the finishing touches are placed on the $1 billion renovation of Madison Square Garden, the arena was recently denied an indefinite operating permit by the city of New York, specifically the New York City Planning Commission. Instead MSG was given a 15 year lease on the space it currently sits.¬†Ben Kabak over at Second Ave Sagas weighed in on the matter, and it appears that this new 15 year lease comes with a caveat: MSG will need to find a resolution with the city to “the Penn Station problem.”

The “Penn Station problem” is, as Kabak puts it, capacity restraints. As a daily commuter to and from Long Island, I can see where this is coming from. I have often been unable to even enter Penn Station when there are delays, as the station itself is very small and the hallways very narrow. As people get priced out of living in the city, the number of commuters grows on a monthly basis.

Another aspect is that many, including some NY Post editorial writers, believe that the city needs to recapture the architectural beauty that was the old Penn Station, and that it needs to be done right where MSG currently stands. The problem here is that there is a pretty large office building right on Seventh Ave that wasn’t there when the original Penn Station stood. Some editorial writers, it appears, have short memories.

During the process of granting MSG a 15 year lease, commission Chair Amanda Burden said, “I don’t think anyone would disagree that the best outcome for New York City would be a relocated Madison Square Garden and a rebuilt Penn Station.” Like Kabak, I vehemently disagree with this sentiment. Penn Station is cramped, but there are ways to alleviate this problem without moving MSG.

Burden’s comments are also a bit naive, considering James Dolan and Cablevision just spent $1 billion¬†of their own money to renovate MSG. Dolan will not let the city simply walk all over him after he just dropped ten figures into the city’s economy on the renovation. John Q. Taxpayer did not spend a cent of their own money to fund these renovations, and it’s something that Burden should keep in mind before giving a person like James Dolan an ultimatum.

Dolan and MSG have another 15 years to sort things out, but I’m pretty sure the man who just put $1 billion of his own money into a renovation is not all that pleased that they are attempting to move the Garden. You can guarantee that if the city pursues this route, Dolan will not spend another $1 billion of his own money on a new arena, of which a location has still not yet been decided. A simple solution, as Kabak put it, is to expand on the current Penn Station and make it more accessible.

Categories : Business of Hockey


  1. Walt says:


    Typical NYC administration, screw people, in this case Dolan, who have indeed put a hugh amount of his money, only to get it it the back end.

  2. The Suit says:

    Not going to happen. The post office across the street is where Penn station will expand to.

  3. babba says:

    Karma can be a bitch. Contributing his own $ is one of the rare things Dolan has done right in his era. These days 15 years seems almost the average for these stadium deals (it’s been politically in vogue since Camden Yards to screw Joe Taxpayer for these deals – see BOA stadium money grab currently going down in Charlotte for a prime example in real time!)

    My prediction: the pre-2k debate on the western rail yards project or the new Ice Rink in the Bronx getting expanded and including a basketball court for the Knicks (especially if Nets cut into Knick territory the next 15 years). This becomes increasingly alarming if we have a Melo opt out and the Knicks go in the tank however the Rangers seem set up nicely for the future. Something else to consider is Dolan might not necessarily keep the two teams a package deal which makes for many more options to consider like above in which incremental revenue opportunities will arise as a result and Dolan could recoup his billion quickly.

    • Dave says:

      I expect Dolan to recoup his $1 billion, and I expect him to do it rather quickly (5 years or so between Rangers/Knicks/concerts). That said, when you invest a billion, you expect to be there for more than 15 years.