NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The world’s most famous arena could be on the move if one local official has his way.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has proposed moving Madison Square Garden because he says it is stifling Penn Station’s growth.
“The Garden is a New York City institution,” Stringer told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott. “But the problem we face is that it’s located atop Penn Station and that has prevented Penn Station to expand and grow and that has potentially serious long-term impacts on our economy and the future transportation planning of our city.”
Stringer said three times more people commute through Penn Station today than when MSG was first approved in 1963.
Stringer is calling on the Garden to move in the next 10 years to allow Penn Station to expand.
“We must ensure that the Garden stays in Manhattan in close proximity to where the Garden is located and I believe that we can achieve that if we create a regional master plan for the area in the West 30s that can rejuvenate the area, expand transportation and move the Garden so it can always be part of New York City,” Stringer told Scott.
MSG has requested a special land-use permit to allow it to remain in its current location “in perpetuity.” Stringer has proposed rejecting the Garden’s request and instead offering a 10-year permit.
Stringer said he envisions MSG just moving a few blocks away from where it stands today to make room for more transportation inside Penn Station.
The borough president said leaving MSG where it is will make it very difficult, but not impossible, to expand transit in and out of Penn Station. He also noted that the city was close to a deal to move the Garden a number of years ago, but that plan fell through.
“That means growth stops right at the entry of Penn Station,” Stringer said. “Let’s do some real old-fashion urban planning.”
He said the move would benefit the transit hub because it would get a make-over.
“Penn Station is ugly. It’s not efficient,” Stringer said.
“If we’re going to be smart about planning in this city, we have to think about that now,” he added.
Stringer said he will not try to hold the special permit hostage and acknowledged that it will likely be granted. He said he’s pushing for a real discussion on the issue so a decision can be made sooner rather than later.
The Madison Square Garden Company issued the following statement in response to Stringer’s proposal:
“Virtually all special permits are granted without artificial expirations. In addition to this, MSG meets all required findings for this permit and operates in a city where no sports arena or stadium has a time limit to its use. Given these circumstances, we have the reasonable expectation that we will be treated like every other applicant. Yet the Garden – a company that has recently invested nearly $1 billion in its Arena and helps drive the city’s economy by supporting thousands of jobs and attracting hundreds of annual events – is being unfairly singled out because of a decision that was made 50 years ago to demolish the original Penn Station. Adding an arbitrary expiration for reasons unrelated to the special permit process or requirements would not only set a dangerous and questionable precedent, but would also hinder our ability to make MSG and New York City the long-term home of even more world-class events, and would harm a business that has served as a significant economic driver for the City for generations.”
Stringer, who is running for city comptroller, said the goal is not to push the Garden out of its home against its will, but rather to reach a deal that benefits all involved parties.
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