Despite public pleas from former New York Knicks stars Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier and celebrities like superfan Spike Lee, the City Council voted 47-1 in favor of the 10-year limit to the lease after MSG had requested to operate continually —although there is a puncher's chance it could be extended.
Council members and civic leaders want to move the New York City home to the Knicks and Rangers so Penn Station can be overhauled in a three-year, $1 billion renovation.
The current Garden opened in 1968 and has hosted many legendary concerts and boxing matches to go with its glorious hockey and basketball past but has recently had to duke it out with the slick new Barclays Center across the East River and heavy-fisted NYC bureaucrats.
“Madison Square Garden will have to move, and I think this permit sends the message that that work needs to begin now,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. “We need to make sure Penn Station becomes what we need it to be, a really 21st century grand entrance into the greatest city in the world, not ... what Sen. [Daniel] Moynihan or others historically described as a bunch of rat tunnels that lead people in and out of the city every day.”
Since the City Planning Department already approved the permit, the Council vote makes it final. It does not need a signoff from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Madison Square Garden Company predicted the arena has a “bright” future. “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,” the company said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street will never be the same. Neither will Spike.