Why Is James Dolan’s MSG Still Not Paying New York City Property Taxes?

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) stands near the goal as the New York Rangers celebrate a goal by Chris Kreider during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 5, 2023, in New York. The Rangers won 6-3.
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Madison Square Garden made a sizable profit in the last financial year.

Here is a question for members of the New York State Legislature. Can you explain why a company that brought in $887 million in revenue and had an operating profit of $89.9 million and has seen its stock price rise by 12 percent is not paying any New York City property tax? That is the picture of Madison Square Garden’s business, it is doing exceptionally well financially but the company does not pay a nickel in property taxes doing business in Manhattan. Here is where the New York State Legislative branch comes into play. In July 1982 state lawmakers voted to give the Garden’s owner, Gulf and Western Industries, a tax break. Gulf and Western did not have to pay its property tax bill for 10 years. The $5 million a year tab was waived in an effort to keep the National Basketball Association’s New York Knickerbockers basketball team in Manhattan and block the owners from moving the franchise to the Nassau Coliseum in suburban Uniondale and the National Hockey League’s New York Rangers business to the Meadowlands in New Jersey. John McMullen bought the Colorado Rockies franchise and moved the team to the Meadowlands as New York State cooked up a deal with Gulf and Western. New York Mayor Ed Koch pushed for the exemption because the Garden owners were complaining to him that paying the tax kept Knicks and Rangers from being on the same financial playing field as say the NBA’s Kansas City-Omaha Kings and the NHL’s Hartford Whalers. 

In 2020 Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said that state lawmakers should look into the property tax exemption after James Dolan’s Garden ownership moved the WNBA’s Liberty franchise to suburban White Plains in 2018. Nothing happened. There has been no political appetite to revoke the property tax exemption.

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