Lee joined Madison Square Garden and its backers as they continued their fight yesterday to keep the iconic sports arena above Penn Station despite calls to move the facility to a new locale.
The city’s planning commission recommended last month that the City Council only extend a special permit for the Garden to operate there for 15 years. Supporters of the limited permit hope it would the first step in moving the Garden and upgrading the transit hub below.
“For me the Garden is being blamed for what’s happening underneath,” said Lee, the Knicks superfan, who testified at a City Council hearing where both sides made their cases. He was joined by Knicks greats John Starks, Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe.
Transit advocates have been pushing to evict the Garden to expand and improve Penn Station — an effort endorsed last month by the City Planning Commission, which voted to grant just a 15-year permit to the Garden.
Lee may have found his Reggie Miller in this dispute regarding his beloved Garden— City Council speaker and NYC mayoral-hopeful Christine Quinn.
Quinn had stayed out of the controversy for months but weighed in for the first time Wednesday, just as a Council committee prepared to consider the matter. She said she backs a 10-year permit so the city can fix “a dismal Penn Station that is dangerous (and) overcrowded.”
“Finding a new location for the Garden is likely the only way to address the ongoing capacity and safety issues at Penn Station,” she wrote in a letter to Garden President Hank Ratner.
Quinn’s opposition came despite the star-studded full-court press from Garden supporters.