New York Gov. Hochul shrugged off Madison Square Garden’s tax-exempt status

ALBANY. Gov. Hochul hinted Thursday that she is not happy with the plan to strip Madison Square Garden of its tax-exempt status.

The governor told Fox 5 Good Day New York she knows “how important the Garden is” when asked about a Senate Democrat proposal that would strip the venue of a 40-year property tax exemption amid controversy surrounding owner James Dolan. using facial recognition technology to ban critics.

“This is an important asset and part of our identity, people like to go there,” the governor said. “I want to make sure they live for many years.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul addresses members of the media during a press conference in New York, Monday, March.  13, 2023.

The measure, included in the Senate Democrat’s budget proposal first reported by the Daily News earlier this week, would remove Madison Square Garden’s tax-exempt status and funnel all future property tax revenue to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A state law passed in 1982 granted “The World’s Most Famous Arena” an indefinite tax exemption after the then-owners threatened to relocate the Rangers and Knicks to New Jersey.

Dolan has come under fire from state lawmakers, including Senator Brad Hoylman-Segal (D-Manhattan), for using facial recognition software to prevent perceived adversaries from attending events at MSG and elsewhere. which he owns.

“Madison Square Garden is receiving an incredibly generous subsidy that frankly outlived its useful purpose and outlasted it 30 years ago,” Hoylman-Segal told Daily News earlier this week. “They are not a church, they are not a non-profit organization; they benefited from four decades of government officials looking the other way.”

While he clashed with several state legislators, Dolan and his family were big supporters of the governor. Last year, members of the Dolan family poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Hochul’s campaign coffers when she narrowly defeated Republican Lee Zeldin.

The governor on Thursday noted that things are still “fluid” at the moment as she and legislature leaders are just beginning to discuss the spending plan ahead of the state’s budget deadline at the end of the month.

“What was proposed by the senator is certainly something that we are looking at, a lot of ideas have been proposed,” she said. “So I just want to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

Madison Square Garden

While Hochul hasn’t been open about whether she supports or opposes MSG’s proposal, she has repeatedly paid homage to the famed midtown Manhattan establishment.

“I don’t prejudge my position on issues like the budget,” she said. “It’s a fluid situation, but right now I know how important MSG is.”

James Dolan, Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden Sports Corp., during a press conference at Radio City Music Hall in 2021.

The potential loss of Sade’s tax exemption is not Dolan’s only problem with the state. Last weekend, the State Liquor Authority threatened to revoke MSG’s license to sell alcohol at the arena, as well as from Radio City and the Beacon Theater, due to a ban on lawyers involved in the lawsuit against Garden.

MSG filed an injunction in court preventing the state from imposing any ban on the sale of alcohol in its establishments on Saturday.

In addition, State Attorney General Letitia James, in a letter, asked Dolan to “justify company policy” regarding banning some fans from his establishments earlier this year.

A spokeswoman for MSG set her sights on supporting Hoylman-Segal for tax credits for film and other industries when asked about the new proposal.

“Our tax credits are no different than the government subsidies that every stadium and arena in New York and the state receives, and are, in fact, hundreds of millions of dollars less than most other places,” the spokeswoman said. “Where is the withdrawal of subsidies for all other teams and stadiums across the state?”

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