New York City gives Madison Square Garden ten years to move

Bruce Bennett

Ten Year Countdown to a new MSG? City Council renews MSG lease for a limited time, gives Garden ten years to find a new home while plans are made to renovate the bustling Penn Station below.

The New York City Council yesterday voted 47-1 to limit Madison Square Garden's permit to lease the land between 7-8 Avenues and 31-33rd Streets from the city to ten more years, so that the busy Penn Station, one of New York City's main transportation hubs, can be renovated into a "world-class destination."

Madison Square Garden has ten years - barring court battles and negotiations - to find a new location. Technically, they can reapply through the permit process, but that seems unlikely.

"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 City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The Garden is home not only to St. John's, but to the Knicks, the Rangers, the Big East Tournament, various college basketball tournaments, iconic boxing matches, large-scale concerts and events. The marquee and old facade are familiar sights on the West Side of Manhattan.

James Dolan's Madison Square Garden doesn't own the land where the "World's Most Famous Arena" rests. It is city land, leased via a special land-use permit with New York City. The Garden applied for a permit to use the land in perpetuity, after the lease to use the land ran out in January, 50 years after the permit was granted; the Garden has operated with an extension up until yesterday's City Council ruling.

Advocates of renovating Penn Station say there is no other way to modernize the station's "overcrowded and dim public areas", or to make space for future improvements like high-speed rail without moving Penn Station. Penn Station is a hub for regional and national train traffic. Architects have already proposed radical, futuristic plans for the space.

Madison Square Garden is finishing renovations to its interior, changes that have cost just under $1 billion to enhance the fan experience.

The Garden has had three other locations - two at the actual Madison Square on 23rd Street (where the Shake Shack continues to draw hour-long lines for burgers/ shakes) and a location at 8th Avenue and 50th Street.

Thoughts on a new MSG, where St. John's goes in ten years (which IS a long time), and your experience in Penn Station?

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