State Senator Suggests Shifting MSG Tax Breaks After James Dolan Bans Knicks Fan

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2019

FILE - In this Oct. 20, 2018, file photo, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, center, watches an NBA basketball game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden in New York. It's been a year since Dolan announced his intent to sell the New York Liberty, and the team is still on the market. There have been several potential buyers and a few have gotten close to purchasing the team, but for various reasons all the potential deals fell through. Even without a new owner on the horizon and the Liberty in the same situation as last November, there is no danger of the team ceasing to exist this winter. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

New York State senator Brad Hoylman took exception to New York Knicks owner James Dolan kicking a fan out of Madison Square Garden, tweeting that the famous arena should perhaps lose its tax breaks over the ordeal:

Senator Brad Hoylman @bradhoylman

Madison Square Garden gets over $40M/year in property tax breaks. If James Dolan wants to treat it as his private stadium & ban fans for merely suggesting he sell a team, then perhaps Albany should take his lead—and redirect those public dollars to Penn Station’s MTA facilities. https://t.co/yw46xPUvWt

TMZ Sports released the video of Dolan having the exchange with the fan, who said the owner should sell the team, before the fan was removed from the arena:

In that video, a fan can be heard yelling "Sell the team!" as Dolan walks down the tunnel before Dolan motioned for him to come closer.

"You want to not come to anymore games?" Dolan asked.

"Why?" the fan asked.

"That's rude," Dolan replied.

"It's our opinion," the fan said.

"No, it's not an opinion," Dolan countered, "and you know what, enjoy watching them on TV."

According to TMZ Sports, the fan was then questioned by security and asked to leave Madison Square Garden. An MSG spokesperson told the site, "Our policy is and will continue to be that if you are disrespectful to anyone in our venues, we will ask you not to return."

The situation made Dolan appear thin-skinned, at best, and isn't exactly great PR for an organization that hasn't had a winning season since the 2012-13 campaign and last year made negative waves after former Knicks player Charles Oakley was dragged out of the arena by a number of security guards. He's since filed a civil suit against both Dolan and MSG for defamation. 

There is excitement around the 13-54 Knicks heading into the offseason, with continued buzz that the team could be major players in free agency and perhaps land a big fish like Kevin Durant. But negative press like Dolan kicking out a fan for an innocuous jab—and earning the attention of a state senator in the process—won't help their cause this summer.


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