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The New York City Council voted Wednesday to limit Madison Square Garden’s permit at its current spot above Penn Station to 10 years – a decision cheered by civic organizations campaigning to move the home of the Knicks and Rangers so the busy station can be renovated.
The owners of the Garden had wanted to operate at the site in perpetuity, while the city planning commission recommended a 15-year extension.
Organizations hoping Madison Square Garden will move to another location applauded the 47-1 City Council vote limiting the arena’s permit.
The Alliance for a New Penn Station said the council “has made clear that now is time to get to work and build the Penn Station that New York City and the region desperately need in order to improve transit access and spur economic growth in the city and throughout the region.”
Kim Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Madison Square Garden Co., noted that the arena is in the midst of a three-year renovation costing nearly $1 billion.
“Madison Square Garden has operated at its current site for generations and has been proud to bring New Yorkers some of the greatest and most iconic moments in sports and entertainment,” Kerns said.
Last month, Council Speaker Christine Quinn told Garden officials in a letter that finding a new location for the arena is the only way to address the development of a new Penn Station and the surrounding area.
The Garden opened in 1968 and is home to the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers as well as hosting scores of concerts and other events every year. It sits like a giant hatbox atop Penn Station, the busiest passenger train station in the United States.
Some civic groups say there is a desperate need to modernize the dingy, crowded train station and that can’t happen unless the Garden moves.
Vin Cipolla, president of the Municipal Art Society, called the rebuilt train station “the key infrastructure and development project of our time and an essential investment in the future of our city.” He added, “Now is the time to make it happen.”
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Taraji P. Henson