MSG’s push to stay put concerns community board

Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden’s special permit to operate as an arena expired in January, and a move by the arena to secure a long-term renewal has evoked mixed reactions in the community, DNAinfo reported.

Fifty years ago, the City Planning Commission issued MSG a special permit which allows it to seat 2,500 people, according to a planning document viewed by DNAinfo. But since Jan. 24, the arena has been relying on a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, which is set to run out in April.

In an effort to secure a permanent permit, MSG appeared before Community Board 5’s land use committee last week, but the committee said that the arena has no business sitting atop Penn Station, which slows down improvements to the city’s most important train station. They added that it would consider a 10-year lease which would give the community a chance to weigh in again in the future.

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“The 10-year renewal is an attempt to create a planning period to figure out another location for the Garden,” Raju Mann, acting chairman of CB5’s land use committee, told DNAinfo. “The reason we would like MSG to relocate is because the Garden sits atop Penn Station, which is North America’s most important train station, but is unfortunately woefully over capacity.”

MSG is currently going through the city’s ULURP process to renew its special permit, having also recently sought permission to waive existing rules and install four 77-foot LED display panels on the stadium’s exterior, in a fashion akin to Times Square.

But a spokeswoman for MSG told DNAinfo that there weren’t any grounds to put a time limit on one of the city’s most iconic venues. “They don’t understand why the special permit expires,” Wagner said of MSG. “For an ongoing business, it just doesn’t make sense.” [DNAinfo]  —Hiten Samtani