Since it opened in 1879, Madison Square Garden has had five homes—and in 10 years, it's going to have a sixth. Yesterday the City Council told the arena it has exactly that much time to leave its home and find a new one. Ain't New York real estate a bitch?
The NY Times reports that by "a vote of 47 to 1, the Council voted to extend the Garden’s special operating permit for merely a decade—not in perpetuity, as the owners of the Garden had requested." At worst, the Bloomberg administration had intended to give them 15 years, but since the City Planning Department already approved this, the Council vote finalizes it, and Bloomberg's sign off is not needed.
This move will also mean changes to the loathed Penn Station—Christine Quinn said, “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. This is an opportunity to reimagine and redevelop Penn Station as a world-class transportation destination, not ... what [has been] historically described as a bunch of rat tunnels that lead people in and out of the city every day.” Quinn also discussed the idea of creating a commission to work on these plans.
The Garden is about to complete a $968 million renovation, and as Deadspin points out, this latest vote isn't exactly a death sentence—"When the permit comes up again, MSG will have the right to re-apply." And with that, owner James Dolan is only commenting on the current state of affairs at the arena, issuing a statement saying, "Madison Square Garden has operated at its current site for generations, and has been proud to bring New Yorkers some of the greatest and most iconic moments in sports and entertainment. We now look forward to the reopening of the arena in fall 2013, following the completion of our historic, three-year, nearly billion-dollar transformation, which will ensure our future is as bright as our celebrated past.” Yesterday his venue was ranked six spots below Barclays Center in worldwide ticket sales.
Earlier this year the Municipal Art Society challenged renowned architecture firms to redesign The Garden, and here's what they came up with—they did the same with Penn Station. And to that, the powers that be at MSG responded, "It’s curious to see that there are so many ideas on how to tear down a privately owned building that is a thriving New York icon, supports thousands of jobs and is currently completing a $1 billion transformation. These pie-in-the-sky drawings completely ignore the fact that no viable plans or funding to rebuild Penn Station and relocate MSG actually exist."