Community leaders call on Governor Hochul to rescind MSG property tax break

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Friday, March 10, 2023
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MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Madison Square Garden has made a healthy profit for forty years as the home of the Knicks and Rangers but has not paid a penny in property taxes.

James Dolan is the billionaire owner of the garden, and in 1980 he was given an exemption on property taxes for as long as the Knicks play every home game at the garden saving him about $43 million a year. Some say it's time for the state to rescind the deal.

In contrast, Layla Law-Gisko of Community Board 5 said Yankee Stadium pays $84 million while Barclays pays $50 million.

"We treat MSG like its some church or some other nonprofit institution because they don't pay property taxes like the rest of us do," Senator Bard Hoylman said. "Like every other business does."

Some want what they see as corporate welfare for the garden, to end.

At a rally in front of MSG on Friday a group of activists and politicians said it's time for the state to overturn the garden's tax exemption, and make Dolan pay what other businesses pay.

But they fear New York Governor Kathy Hochul may not be the person to lead this charge against Dolan and there's a lot at stake.

"In the last election he spent over $200,000 with tv ads, digital ads, mailers, to support the governor's candidacy," said Alice Nascimento of New York Communities for Change.

MSG Entertainment released a statement saying,

""It's interesting that Senator Hoylman is rallying to end governmental subsidies for corporations when just last year he voted in favor of legislation that extends a $420M governmental subsidy for the film industry and currently sponsors legislation to create new subsidies for the musical and theatrical production industry. Madison Square Garden is a significant job creator and an economic leader within both our community and the city. Our tax abatement is no different than the government subsidies that every single stadium and arena in New York city and state receive and in fact, is hundreds of millions of dollars less than most other venues."

An MSG spokesperson said the garden is a "significant job creator and economic leader" for the community and city.

The spokesperson also said MSG's tax abatement is "no different" than the government subsidies received by other stadiums and arenas in New York City.

RELATED | New calls for Madison Square Garden to halt use of facial recognition

In six months, Madison Square Garden Entertainment utilized the tech to have three people removed from the Garden and Radio City Music Hall.

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