A top Madison Square Garden official says the World’s Most Famous Arena is willing to relocate — as long as they only have to move across the street.
The potential relocation would plunk the Garden at a nearby site on Seventh Avenue, to help make way for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plans to expand the Penn Station transit hub.
However, MSG Executive Vice President Joel Fisher was quick to point out that no such feasible plan exists, and that the Garden has no current plans to relocate.
He made the stunning concession during a Manhattan Community Board 5 committee hearing Wednesday.
A suggestion raised earlier in the hearing to move MSG across the street on Seventh Avenue, between 32nd and 34th streets “probably would satisfy us,” Fisher said.
“But ultimately, who is going to pay for that? Where is the money? That plan hasn’t come to us but that would satisfy being right on top of a transportation hub,” he added.
Fisher appeared to be referencing comments by Stephen Marmon, a member of the public, who proposed moving MSG into the middle of developer Vornado Realty Trust’s stalled Penn Station-area redevelopment plan, which calls for building high-rise office towers, and potentially a casino, on the same blocks, Crain’s New York first reported.
The site is currently home to aging office buildings and the shuttered, soon-to-be-demolished Hotel Pennsylvania.
MSG owner James Dolan — who has recently come under fire for his controversial use of surveillance technology at MSG events — is seeking to operate the Garden in perpetuity after its current city permit expires July 24. He sought the same concession when MSG’s original, 50-year permit expired in 2013, but the City Council only gave him a decade.
Although current plans to renovate Penn Station don’t include evicting MSG, some state and city officials have expressed a desire to use the permit extension as means to push the sporting and entertainment complex to relocate for what they argue would allow for a true redevelopment of the neighborhood.
When asked about possibly moving across the street, an MSG spokesperson said no such feasible plan to move the home of the Knicks and Rangers has ever been presented to Garden brass.
“If there was a realistic plan presented to us, that was centrally-located, in close proximity to mass transit, and that addressed the $8.5 billion in public funding that Empire State Development has estimated it would cost to move The Garden, we would of course listen – but this just hasn’t happened,” the spokesperson said.
However, Manhattan CB5 Land Use, Housing & Zoning committee chair Layla Law-Gisiko said Fisher’s remarks about being open to relocation give the community board hope some sort of compromise can be reached.
“This was a statement … that had never been made before by MSG, so it is very significant that they are stating they would consider moving, ” Law-Gisiko said. “While I don’t know that this site … could be an acceptable site as far as the community is concerned, I certainly think this is a conversation that needs to be had. And, listen, the simple fact that they” would consider “moving as a possibility is tremendous.”
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