A vote took place in New York City a day ago in regards to Madison Square Garden’s permit in New York City. The New York City Council voted to extend the Garden’s permit to operate above Penn Station for ten more years, not the perpetuity vote the Garden was hoping for. The vote was nearly unanimous, as the Council voted 47-1 to limit the permit. What does this mean for New York City and MSG’s sports teams? There is a very real chance that New Yorkers will have to find a new venue to root on the Knicks, Rangers and attend many of the sporting events, concerts, shows and other events that they have been going to the Garden since 1968 to see.
As a New York sports fan, there is really no place like Madison Square Garden to watch a sporting event. I loved the old Yankee Stadium but when the Knicks and Rangers are in the playoffs, you can feel the electricity in the building. The memories I have from the 1994 season, when both the Knicks and Rangers made their respective finals are right up with my favorite sports moments of my life as an intense fan. If New York City loses Madison Square Garden, it will lose a big chunk of its identity.
Ask any opposing player in the NBA or NHL which arena they love playing in the most and the answer will be Madison Square Garden 99% of the time. Over the years, our team’s have been negatively affected by their oppositions motivation by playing on the biggest stage in sports, but it had led to great performances for New York fans to witness. From Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzky, Martin Brodeur and many others, New York City sports fans have been able to witness the all-time greats travel to New York City and give their best performance because they knew we were the best fan base to impress.
The New York City Council feels that it is more important to extend Penn Station above ground. I don’t understand why this is necessary. I’ve been using Penn Station to travel on New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad all of my adult life. Although I can agree that a renovation for Penn Station might be a little overdue, I don’t see why it’s necessary to remove an arena that has given New York City and the midtown area of Manhattan so much life. How many bars, restaurants and other businesses thrive from Ranger and Knick game nights? Also, the New York City Subway system and other major train depots have been more than functional underground. Does the New York City Council really feel moving our sports home is necessary so people traveling have better phone service as they wait to board their trains?
As a New York City employee, I pay a lot of taxes. Madison Square Garden just put nearly a billion dollars into renovating the Garden and the project will finally be complete this fall. Now, this Council is telling New Yorkers that not only will the city need to build a new arena and renovate Penn Station, but also it is likely that Cable Vision and Knick and Ranger owner James Dolan will want to be reimbursed the money he spent on the latest renovations. Where do we think this money might be coming from, if not New Yorkers paychecks?
Lastly, New York City fans are well aware of what happens when our teams homes are relocated. As I said earlier, the old Yankee Stadium was about as electric as MSG. The new Yankee Stadium is more like a mall then a baseball stadium. An individual can have a full night out at the new Yankee Stadium without seeing one pitch. Metlife Stadium might be bigger and cleaner than the old Giants Stadium, but it’s certainly not as loud and does not nearly carry the same home field advantage. Look at the Giants recent playoff success and you might notice that all of their big victories over the years have been on the road. MSG is the last sporting gem that we have in our area and now the clock for its relocation is ticking.