Thursday, July 25, 2013

MSG on the Move?

Despite James Dolan's still unfinished $968 million overhaul of Madison Square Garden, the Rangers and Knicks may soon find themselves homeless. The preemptive eviction notice comes after the New York City Council voted 47-1 to extend the Garden's special operating permit for just one more decade. Five years fewer than the 15 year permit the owners of the Garden, as well as the Bloomberg administration, had hoped for.

The move comes as a result of the city's plan to re-vamp the decrepit Penn Station, a transportation hub for commuters from Long Island and New Jersey, that has seen its better days come and go a long time ago. The station sees more than 500,000 daily commuters, and aside from being habitually overcrowded and hard to navigate, is a hot bed for panhandlers and the homeless.

City Council speaker Chris Quinn says “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.”

Even with the tentative plans to kick the Knicks (amongst others) to the 34th street curb, Dolan barely alluded to the City Council's decision in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, instead choosing to focus on the "World's Most Famous" arena's deep rooted history, while looking ahead to the reopening for the 2013 seasons.

And with good reason.

Ten years is a long time, and there's no telling what the administration's motives will be at that time, yet alone who is going to hold office. That's more than 3,500 days to come up with creative ideas to dilute Penn Station traffic and come up with a solution that works for both parties. One such idea would be to re-route some of the Long Island commuter traffic to Grand Central to lessen the burden, and make Penn the primary NJ/Amtrak operating spot.

But if this plan does come to fruition, it would take a serious toll on the players, owners and fans. Regardless of where they move to there's no chance they could find two vacant square blocks in a spot as centrally located as the real estate it holds today. As it stands now, the arena is easily accessible regardless of where you're coming from, with six different Subway lines running through it (A, C, E, 1, 2, 3), as well as the LIRR and NJT. A move from its current location would have catastrophic effects on local businesses, and would render the aforementioned nearly $1 billion renovation pointless. 

Luckily, there's still time to compromise, so this isn't necessarily a death sentence for MSG quite yet.

But this time around the clock is ticking before the season even starts.

-fresh (@danye33)

[Madison Square Garden Is Told To Move]

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