By: Hellen Zaboulani
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he would open talks with Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan regarding the possibility of moving “the world’s most famous arena”.
As reported by the NY Post, on Wednesday, the mayor said he would be open to the discussions, which have been prompted by the state’s plans to redevelop Penn Station and the surrounding neighborhood. “I am open. The Penn Station project is a crucial one. I think that area is ripe for housing, is ripe for real investment,” Mayor Adams said at a Crain’s New York ‘Power Breakfast’ held at the New York Athletic Club. “And if that fits into Madison Square Garden moving into another location – maybe we’ll help the Knicks win,” he added with a chuckle. “So we should be willing to speak with Mr. Dolan and see how it fits into the overall scheme of that area.”
Adams said that Pennsylvania Plaza, which surrounds the famed sporting and entertainment complex, could be an ideal location to add much needed housing, saying he would welcome a residential development. “I think that we can find the right balance between office and housing,” Adams said. “We have to build more housing. There’s a real need for housing in the city and particularly in areas that have access to transportation, good health care, good schools.”
New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul has approved the Penn Station Redevelopment plans, once ex-governor Andrew Cuomo’s pet project, hoping to turn it into her legacy. The plan is to add 10 supertall mixed-use (mostly office) towers, and to pay for the costly project via future property-tax revenue generated by the buildings.
Local representatives including Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and State Sens. Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman have been arguing that MSG needs to be relocated in order to fully redevelop the neighborhood. For his part, Mr. Dolan has long fought to stay put. Years ago, former mayor Michael Bloomberg had proposed moving the stadium closer to Manhattan’s west side, but Dolan and others had opposed. It seems that now, however, Dolan may be open to changing his position. “The Penn Station area is way, way out of balance. So he is opening his mind to the right point of view,” said Alexandros Washburn, Bloomberg’s former Chief Urban Designer and now executive director the Grand Penn Community Alliance, which backs moving the complex.
As per Crain’s, in July Dolan had held talks with Related Companies, the Hudson Yards’ developer, to build a new arena there. That plan, however, reportedly fell through. “We rejected that proposal,” a MSG representative told Crain’s, calling Related’s proposal “unworkable.”
MSG currently owns the Midtown land where the sports complex is. It would cost about $8.5 billion in public funding to move the stadium, as per an Empire State Development meeting summary. The stadium was granted an operating permit from the city in 1963, which was renewed in 2013, but which expires next year. Even if the permit isn’t renewed, MSG insists it won’t have to leave. “If the Garden’s [permit] is denied, MSG would retain the right to operate the Garden, but would have to limit capacity to 2,500 seats,” MSG said. “Moreover, MSG would be permitted to raze the Garden and build another structure above Penn Station on an as-of-right basis.”