NYC Lawmakers Going After MSG’s Tax Break

Kevin Schultz

It’s not exactly Islanders related, but around these parts we tend to cover what’s going on with the local arenas quite closely and this is a follow up to one of those stories. Over the summer, as both Forest City Ratner and Madison Square Garden were vying for the rights to develop the Nassau Coliseum, we spotlighted the breaks that both entities receive through various mediums (all legal! even if you don’t like them. It’s corporate America, everyone!).

Here’s a flashback to that article, written August 8th:

A couple of weeks back, Madison Square Garden’s operating permit was given only a 10-year extension, which we mention because MSG gets a cool $15 million tax break — estimated to be $350 million total since 1982 — to continue doing exactly what it’s doing. And what it’s doing is “operating a successful business in midtown Manhattan.”

So, you know how lawmakers voted 49-1 to extend the operating permit 10 years and not in perpetuity? Well, in New York City they’re doubling down on their anti-MSG proposals and attempting to end the tax break that MSG recieves. That break is $15 million a year because they don’t pay property taxes.

We’re honestly not plugged into NYC politics enough to know how serious the attempts to end the lease are but here’s what’s happening, per CBS:

New York State Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) led a news conference Tuesday denouncing the plan. The lawmakers called the tax break “absolutely absurd corporate welfare.”

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) said it is time to stop the tax break. She said Madison Square Garden does not need the money anymore, and the people of the city do.

“We need the revenue we have lost through granting these tax breaks for health care; for poor people; for all sorts of things,” Rosenthal said. “Meanwhile, the rich get richer, and they can get rich on their own.”

While the bill does have sponsors in both the New York State Senate and Assembly, it may meet opposition from Governor Cuomo who spoke out against it in April.

In that same April article Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) also spoke out against it telling the Daily News that “the deal is to encourage development.”

Because obviously there wouldn’t be a sports arena in New York City without it.