NEW YORK (WABC) -- City officials laid out their vision Monday for the future of Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine is now recommending that MSG's theater be knocked down to create a new entrance for Penn Station.
That's a new approach to what the local community boards voted on last month -- which was to move the site entirely in order to make way for improvements to the transit hub.
Levine is now suggesting the arena that is home to the Knicks and Rangers could stay where it is if it gives up something in return.
"We have an opportunity to do something grant here for rail passengers and it starts with knocking down that theater," Levine said.
The theater seats up to 5,600 people and would make way for a grant, light-infused concourse and entrance to Penn Station.
MSG's permit to operate expires in July and Levine thinks the Garden might concede to the plan in order to get a new five-year permit.
And he said the timing for funding is right.
"There are exciting opportunities now and I'm going to use my voice to make sure we do something great here now and I know I have partners in government and community leaders who are going to help make it happen now," Levine said.
Even though the Garden is the second oldest arena used in the NBA, it has moved three other times in its history. However, the current owner, James Dolan, has previously insisted he is not moving MSG any time soon.
Sam Turvey, Chairperson of ReThinkNYC, ReThinkPennStationNYC, and Co-Coordinator of the Empire Station Coalition released a statement that said in part:
"The Borough President's decision to endorse leaving Madison Square Garden in place and similar pronouncements by others are evidence that the voices of billionaires and their lobbyists are being allowed to trump the needs of the public," Turvey said. "Penn Station, while it remains pinned under Madison Square Garden, will never operate properly as a transit facility or provide the region with an above-ground station worthy of the largest transit hub in the Western Hemisphere. The incremental convenience of arena attendees does not outweigh the needs of millions of people in the region."
An MSG Entertainment spokesperson released the following statement:
"As invested members of our community, we are deeply committed to improving Penn Station and the surrounding area, and we continue to collaborate closely with a wide range of stakeholders to advance this shared goal."
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