Statement by Speaker Christine C. Quinn Re: Madison Square Garden

$11 million dollars may not sound like a lot of money to Jim Dolan, but to most New Yorkers it’s a fortune. If he expects the City of New York to extend what is almost a million dollar a month tax break in perpetuity, he’s sadly mistaken. New Yorkers pay the highest taxes in the country, and they need to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely.
When Mayor Koch requested the exemption for MSG, he believed it would be for a decade, not a quarter of a century, and certainly not forever. But for more than twenty-five years, New Yorkers have compensated Madison Square Garden’s decision to stay in New York to the tune of nearly $297 million dollars. It’s time for them to start paying their fair share.

Madison Square Garden, the Knicks and Rangers, should be treated just like all our hometown professional sports teams. The Yankees and Mets are building publicly owned ballparks on publicly owned land, the Garden is a private facility. If and when a new arena is built for the Knicks and Rangers, Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS) should be considered as were structured around the agreements to build new homes for the Mets and Yankees.

Today’s hearing should come as no surprise to the Dolans. My position hasn’t changed since last April when I called for repealing this exemption as part of my Budget Response. In fact, I supported this resolution long before I became Speaker.

The City faces hard economic decisions in areas like education and healthcare in the coming years. We should not make these decisions even more difficult because the Garden is looking for a free ride.

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