Madison Square Garden may move…in a decade

The New York City Council voted to extend the arena's operating permit by only a decade—meaning it may move when that's up.

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Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden Photograph: flickr.com/photos/mtchlra

There's no denying that the area around Madison Square Garden and Penn Station is a nightmare: Thanks to the fact that the Garden sits atop the train depot, both the station and the surrounding area are frequently congested and difficult to navigate. And unlike elegant Grand Central Terminal across town, Penn is a subterranean, claustrophobic mess.


Now, there's a chance that won't be the case forever: After a lengthy public-review process, the New York City Council voted to extend MSG's operating permit by only ten years, rather than the lifetime permit that the Garden had hoped for. Groups such as the Municipal Art Society and the Regional Plan Association, as well as elected officials like Scott Stringer, had called for the shorter extension. According to the Times, Council speaker Christine Quinn stated, "This is an opportunity to reimagine and redevelop Penn Station as a world-class transportation destination."


But the vote doesn't amount to an immediate eviction notice: MSG—which is currently in the middle of renovations expected to be completed this year—has ten years to search for a new home. In the meantime, city and state officials will be tasked with coming up with a plan for a new Penn Station. Although the Municipal Art Society recently invited architects to design a new, less crummy train depot, no proposals for an improved terminal exist yet. MSG can apply to re-extend its permit in 2023 if a concrete plan isn't in place by that point.


If the proposed move does, indeed, come to pass, it will be the fifth time the arena has relocated: The first MSG opened near Madison Square Park in 1879; a second one opened on the same spot in 1890 (and was the site of Stanford White's notorious 1906 murder); and a third was located on Eighth Avenue from 1925 to 1968. The most recent iteration opened in 1968.



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