Madison Square Garden, the iconic home of the New York Rangers, New York Knicks, and a host of other events, is scheduled to complete a nearly $1 billion, three-year renovation project this fall. That's a whole lot of work and money, and it seems like even more when you consider that they may only get a decade of use out of it.
On Thursday, the New York City Council notified the arena that it has 10 years to find a new home. From the New York Times:
By a vote of 47 to 1, the Council voted to extend the Garden’s special operating permit for merely a decade — not in perpetuity, as the owners of the Garden had requested, or 15 years, as the Bloomberg administration had intended.
Ten years should be enough time, officials said, for the Garden to find a new location and for the city to devise plans for an expanded Pennsylvania Station, which currently sits below the Garden, and the redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood.
“This is the first step in finding a new home for Madison Square Garden and building a new Penn Station that is as great as New York and suitable for the 21st century,” said Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker. “This is an opportunity to reimagine and redevelop Penn Station as a world-class transportation destination.”
While it's entirely possible that the arena could get another extension before the 10 years is up, it's clear that the Council (save one person, apparently) has prioritized upgrading Penn Station over keeping the Rangers and Knicks where they've been since 1968.
It makes some sense. Penn Station as it stands, beneath Madison Square Garden, is a cramped maze that barely accommodates the half million people that move through it every day. And, while moving Madison Square Garden is quite an undertaking -- where would they even go? -- it's still far easier than moving Penn Station.
And so: you don't have to go home, Madison Square Garden, but you can't stay here.
James Dolan, the MSG CEO, may be in denial. His company's statement barely acknowledges the vote.
“Madison Square Garden has operated at its current site for generations, and has been proud to bring New Yorkers some of the greatest and most iconic moments in sports and entertainment," it reads. "We now look forward to the reopening of the arena in the fall of 2013.”
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