New York City Council gives Madison Square Garden 10 years to find a new location
Some officials, groups want to renovate transit hub Penn Station located below it
MSG management just spent $1 billion to rehab the home of the Knicks, Rangers
The original Penn Station was razed in 1963, and the arena opened in 1968
Madison Square Garden, one of the world’s iconic sports and entertainment arenas, has been given a decade to relocate after a vote by the New York City Council on Wednesday amid efforts to renovate the equally well-known Penn Station that sits below it.
The council voted to approve a “special permit” that will allow the arena to operate for 10 years while its management seeks to relocate, according to a news release.
The 47-1 vote comes after years of advocacy from city officials and independent groups who have sought to renovate and expand the bustling Pennsylvania Station. Madison Square Garden’s 50-year land-use permit expired in January.
The original Penn Station, which featured Corinthian columns, vast hallways and glass ceilings, was demolished in 1963 to make way for the construction of the current Madison Square Garden, which opened in 1968.
“The approval of this permit offers us a great opportunity to reimagine and redevelop Penn Station as a world-class transportation destination and allow time to relocate Madison Square Garden to a new and improved home,” Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine C. Quinn said in a statement.
In June, Quinn called for the creation of a “Commission for a 21st Century Penn Station,” with the goal of helping to find a new Manhattan home for the arena and to renovate Penn Station.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had hoped for a 15-year permit, according to Julie Wood, spokeswoman for the mayor.
If Madison Square Garden does not find a new location, it will have to reapply for a permit once it expires.
Penn Station accommodates hundreds of thousands travelers per day, and the City Council says the Garden’s placement above it is an “intractable problem.”
“Imagine 220 mph bullet trains that sweep you to D.C. or Boston in 90 minutes or less. These plans are on the table, but they can only be realized with a modern, renovated Penn Station,” said Manhattan Borough President and city comptroller candidate Scott M. Stringer. “That is not possible as long as the Garden sits squarely on top of the nation’s busiest rail transit hub.”
The arena’s management did not go into the details of the vote, stating rather that it looks forward to its reopening this fall after a “three year, nearly billion dollar” renovation, according to Kimberly Kerns, spokeswoman for Madison Square Garden.
The Garden, home to the New York Knicks and Rangers, first opened its doors in 1879 but has since moved to several locations throughout the city, according to its website.
It has stood at its current Midtown Manhattan location since 1968 and hosted the famous “Fight of the Century” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1971.
CNN’s Julia Talanova contributed to this report