Madison Square Garden, James Dolan Criticized Over Facial Recognition Tech

Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan is facing criticism after allegedly using facial recognition technology to remove attendees who the boss doesn't want there.

Now, New York politicians are coming after him.

The most recent example includes a man who was removed near the ice during a New York Rangers game. Benjamin Pinczewski claims that MSG security identified him through the high-tech surveillance, came to his seat, and forced him to leave.

His removal came just a few months after a 44-year-old mother who was with her daughter's Girl Scout troop was at Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular performance and had to be escorted out.

Kelly Corton says that she was embarrassingly forced to leave the premises because she is a lawyer at a firm that is involved in a lawsuit against a restaurant that is part of MSG properties. Corton said she herself isn't part of the lawsuit, and can't even practice law in New York. Yet, that didn't stop Dolan's security from kicking her out.

Both incidents are part of what some New York politicians and fans think is James Dolan going too far. It seems as if this is Minority Report meeting Big Brother, courtesy of facial recognition technology.


On Sunday, New York state senator Brad Hoylman and other elected officials and free speech advocates rallied outside of Madison Square Garden calling out Dolan's AI restrictive technology. They argued that Dolan isn't using the high-tech for any reason other than his personal vendettas against those he doesn't like.

“Madison Square Garden Entertainment says they use facial recognition technology for security purposes to keep their fans safe. Well, we have seen through these examples that James Dolan and Madison Square Garden are less concerned about the security of their fans and more concerned about corporate retaliation," Hoylman told reporters.

Senator Liz Krueger, who was also at the protest, agreed on the dangerous precedent that Dolan's tech brings. "If you work for a law firm, and you work for a big one, you better start a really long list of places you can never go again. And that’s crazy; there is no reason for this,” said Krueger.

Anyone who has covered sports media in New York City knows about Dolan's thuggish behavior.

He's so thin-skinned himself that it will make your skin crawl.

You'd think one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates in the country would be able to act accordingly and not escalate matters that leads to removing fans at Knicks and Rangers games. But that's now wishful thinking.


Last month, a report by NBA journalist Ethan Strauss detailed alleged reports of fans being not only spied on by Dolan's security minions, but actually approaching visitors and warning them that they are watching them.

One of those fans "crimes": He wrote "Sell the team," on Dolan's JD & The Straight Shot band's Facebook page. Those three words were enough to allegedly have the fan blacklisted from the Garden.

Side note: I've seen Dolan's band perform live. They are TERRIBLE. But nobody wants to say anything to Dolan for obvious reasons. So they just smile and yes him as if he's amazing at everything he does - even singing. (I guess I'm going to be banned next.)

Madison Square Garden defended its use of the technology by saying that it has signs warning people that they may be under surveillance when entering the premises. Regarding the banning of certain individuals, they added that they have the right to protect themselves during litigation procedures.

The state senators threatened that if MSG does not cease its use of the facial recognition technology, that they may lose its liquor license and tax exemption status.

Written by
Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.