Madison Square Garden denied permit to operate indefinitely on its current site

05/23/2013 6:41 PM ET
By Matt Hughes

Madison Square Garden, the oldest operating arena in the NHL, has seen the Rangers win the Stanley Cup.(AP)
Madison Square Garden arena could be relocated.

The City Planning Commission denied Madison Square Garden's request for a permit to operate on its current site indefinitely on Wednesday. Instead, the Garden received a new 15-year permit, leaving open the debate about the long-term future of the famous arena.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the Commission's decision. 

At issue is the renovation of Pennsylvania Station, which resides directly below the Garden. Relocating the arena would help facilitate the much-needed renovations at Penn Station.

"What a 15-year period can do is to create an opportunity for city, state and federal government agencies to reach an agreement with Madison Square Garden and the railroads for a comprehensive plan to relocate the arena and rebuild Penn Station," said City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden on Wednesday.

Garden officials were not pleased with the Commission's decision.

"We hoped and expected that City Planning, which currently issues virtually all special permits without term limits, would base its decision on the merits of the permit application. Instead, the Garden -- a key driver of the city's economy that supports thousands of jobs, and which is currently investing nearly $1 billion of its own money in its arena -- is effectively being held hostage by a decision by public officials," said Kimberly Kerns, a spokeswoman for the Madison Square Garden Company.

Relocating the "World's Most Famous Arena" places Christine Quinn, City Council Speaker and the front-runner for the Democratic Party's mayoral nomination, in the spotlight. A spokesman for Ms. Quinn said she is looking forward to meeting with all interested parties to discuss the issue. 

This is not the first time the Garden has faced the possibility of moving. Garden officials were reportedly open to a recent proposal to move the arena to the Ninth Avenue side of the Farley Post Office complex, but backed off when public funding commitments deteriorated. 

Madison Square Garden opened in 1968 and is the oldest operating arena in the NHL and second-oldest in the NBA. 

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