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New York Democrats Want to End Madison Square Garden’s Property Tax Exemption (EXCLUSIVE)

ALBANY — The clock may be ticking on Madison Square Garden’s property tax break.

Senate Democrats are including a measure in their budget proposal that would rescind the tax cut that MSG owner James Dolan has enjoyed for more than four decades, a source familiar with the proposal told the Daily News on Monday.

The move comes amid backlash against the controversial use of facial recognition technology at the Garden and other Dolan-owned sites.

The “World’s Most Famous Arena” was granted a property tax break, enshrined in state law, when the Knicks and Rangers threatened to leave the city in the early 1980s.

But amid ongoing public wrangling and legal battles over the arena’s critics’ ban and liquor license, Democrats are considering ending the exemption that saves Dolan roughly $43 million a year.

The measure to be included in the Senate budget bill would revoke Madison Square Garden’s tax-exempt status and send all future property tax revenue to the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority, according to the language of the bill shared with The News.

The repeal’s inclusion in the Senate budget proposal does not guarantee it will be included in the state’s final spending plan, which is due April 1. Legislative leaders from both the Senate and the Assembly must reach an agreement with Governor Hochul over the next few weeks.

While Dolan has clashed with several Democrats in recent months for banning critics from the venue, he and his family are big supporters of the governor. Dolan family members poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Hochul’s campaign chest last year when he narrowly defeated Republican Lee Zeldin.

James Dolan, CEO of Madison Square Garden Sports Corp.

The Coalition to Restore New York, a political action committee founded by Dolan, also spent more than half a million dollars on ads supporting the Democratic governor.

Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan), whose district includes MSG, is a vocal critic of Dolan who previously supported repeal of the tax break.

Hoylman-Sigal has feuded publicly with Dolan in recent months over MSG’s use of facial recognition and surveillance technology to keep opponents out of the arena and its other famous properties, including Radio City Music Hall.

The legislator drafted a bill earlier this year that would add sporting events to an existing law that prohibits the “unreasonable refusal of admission” to customers with valid tickets for “places of public amusement or entertainment.” He also attended a rally in support of ending MSG’s tax break on Friday.

“Madison Square Garden is benefiting from an incredibly generous subsidy that, frankly, has outlived its useful purpose and did so 30 years ago,” Hoylman-Sigal told The News. “They are not a church, they are not a non-profit entity; they have benefited from four decades of public officials looking the other way.”

In a statement, an MSG spokeswoman pointed to Hoylman-Sigal’s support for tax cuts for movies and other industries when asked about the new proposal.

“Our tax cut is not unlike the government subsidies every stadium and arena in New York City and State receives, and in fact, it’s hundreds of millions of dollars less than most other places,” the statement said. spokeswoman. “Where is the subsidy revocation for all the other teams and venues in the state?”

Dolan’s problems intensified over the weekend. The State Alcoholic Beverage Authority threatened to revoke MSG’s license to sell alcohol at the arena, as well as at Radio City and the Beacon Theatre, due to the ban on lawyers involved in litigation against the Garden.

MSG has sought an injunction preventing the state from imposing any ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at its locations on Saturday.

Earlier this year, the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, asked Dolan in a letter for “justifications for company policies” to keep certain fans out of their venues.

She said the research suggests the company’s use of facial recognition software “may be fraught with bias and false positives” against people of color and women.

Dolan defended the policy and the use of surveillance technology in a fiery appearance on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” in January.

“If someone is suing you, that’s a confrontation,” he said. “If you’re being sued, you don’t have to welcome that person into your home.”

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