Stringer pushes to move Madison Square Garden from atop Penn Station

Penn Station
Commuters crowded through Penn Station Wednesday. (Credit: Miles Dixon)

Penn Station and Madison Square Garden might be on notice.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer announced today that he wants a master plan for the area, which he called a “confusing, subterranean, three-level maze.”

And he blamed Madison Square Garden for stifling what could be the glory of a bustling, spacious midtown station — without having to support the structure of MSG, he said, Penn Station would have more space to grow.

MSG has requested a permit to operate the arena “in perpetuity,” Stringer said. But the home of Knicks games and sold-out concerts should only have the space for 10 years at a time, Stringer said.

The City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing April 10 on Madison Square Garden’s permit application.

Stringer said the Garden should stay in Manhattan, but suggested moving the arena.

“It is time to build a more spacious, attractive and efficient station that will further encourage transit use, reduce driving into the city and spur economic growth throughout our city and our region,” Stringer said.

The station’s daily use has tripled since it was approved for its midtown home – about 640,000 riders go through daily, which exceeds its capacity, Stringer said.

Plans are in the works to change the James A. Farley Post Office across the street into more station space, extending Amtrak under Eighth Avenue.

But because of Madison Square Garden, support columns limit how much the tracks can be expanded, Stringer said.

Stringer also noted that more trains will be coming through Penn Station in coming years, such as extending the 7 line through the Hudson Yards development.

“If we aren’t prepared to accommodate these trains, the station will become increasingly congested, and that will not only hurt the economy of New York City, but the entire region,” Stringer said.

Stringer isn’t alone in his distaste for the station – last week, the Regional Plan Association and the Municipal Art Society said MSG should be moved.

“Penn Station has never been a magnet for West Midtown,” the groups noted.

A Madison Square Garden spokesman said the venue should be granted the special permit without an expiration date and noted that the company invested $1 billion in the arena, which supports thousands of jobs.

“Adding an arbitrary expiration for reasons unrelated to the special permit process or requirements would not only set a dangerous and questionable precedent, but would also hinder our ability to make MSG and New York City the long-term home of even more world-class events,” he said.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison.



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