New York State’s Liquor Authority Moves Forward To Possibly Ban Alcohol From Madison Square Garden

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Madison Square Garden and MSG Entertainment called New York state politicians bluff, and it may have backfired.

The New York State Liquor Authority announced that they have started proceedings to strip MSG Entertainment Properties – including Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, of their liquor license.

The move comes after MSG and MSG CEO James Dolan refused to stop using facial-recognition technology on the premises. Dolan and MSG have admitted the tech has been used in some instances to ban critics. The SLA and local politicians began investigating once it was reported that MSG was banning any attorneys that worked for a law firm that had litigation against MSG.

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James Dolan and MSG has sued New York State Local Authority over a potential liquor ban. (Getty Images)

JUDGE TO DOLAN: “TOTALLY CRAZY”

MSG claims that they have the right to ban the attorneys because they could gain information or “improper disclosures,” inside the venue.

In November, a federal judge called the Garden’s defense as “laughable,” “totally crazy,” and “the stupidest thing ever.”

Dolan has been facing increasing criticism regarding the use of the technology.

In some instances those banned were actual fans of either the Knicks or the Rangers.

Earlier this year a mother, who was accompanying her young daughter and friends was escorted out of Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. She wasn’t even working on the litigation against the Garden, but that didn’t matter.

MSG’s China-like surveillance state technology was used in many, if not all the cases. Once the high-tech cameras (which scan everyone as they are on the properties) identified the person, security would approach them and remove them from the building.

State lawmakers warned Dolan that if he didn’t pull back on the invasive technology that they would take action, including the possible suspension of their liquor license. The SLA has now followed up on their threats and are pursuing the suspension.

Signs warn fans that MSG properties use facial-recognition technology. (Radio City Music Hall)

DOLAN IS NOW SUING THE LIQUOR BOARD

MSG and James Dolan are not going down without a fight.

On Saturday, MSG released a statement lambasting the State Liquor Authority as well as filing an emergency petition to delay any further proceedings.

“This gangster-like governmental organization has finally run up against an entity that won’t cower in the face of their outrageous abuses,” the statement begins. “While others that have been subject to this harassment may have been forced into submission or silence, we are taking a stand on behalf of our fans and the many small businesses who have long been subject to the SLA’s corruption.”

The SLA argues that Dolan’s ban is violating the city’s “open law” policy that mandates all venues be open “to the public at large.”

The fact that MSG immediately filed their legal petition after receiving word about the SLA’s actions show that this is going to be quite the battle. Could you imagine if the Garden doesn’t have any alcohol for not only sporting events but concerts as well? It’d be an absolute disaster.

Clearly the two sides aren’t going about this lightly. So get the popcorn out because it’s going to be fun to watch. It may be almost as exciting as the Knicks these days.

Written by Mike Gunzelman

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.

2 Comments

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  1. Manipulating liquor licenses has been a tool of government agencies for a long time. Facial recognition being used in this manner does seem to be a bit of an overreaction by MSG though.
    Refusing access to ANYONE associated with lawsuits against them is VERY Orwellian of them.

  2. James Dolan decided to f*** around with the State of New York … and now, he’s finding out that it’s not a good idea.

    Dolan has long been know to be petty towards his enemies, but this is taking it to a higher level.

    And, yes, I get that MSG is a private business and can set policies as they see fit, but there are limits to what they can do, even in a left-wing dystopia like New York.

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