James Dolan would be barred from denying MSG, Radio City seats under NY legislation


State lawmakers repping Manhattan have introduced legislation to stop Madison Square Garden Entertainment CEO James Dolan from using “dystopian” tech to block lawyers tied to litigation against the company from attending events.

“MSG’s use of facial recognition technology to retaliate against employees of law firms engaged in litigation against them is deeply concerning,” state Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger said Monday.

“It is an unacceptable invasion of the privacy of all their patrons, and a blatant attempt to intimidate and bully those who might want to pursue their day in court against the company.”

The bill would expand an existing state law barring “wrongful refusal of admission” to include sporting events.

At least four attorneys have been ejected from venues owned by Madison Square Garden Entertainment — which owns Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre as well as the self-proclaimed “World’s Most Famous Arena” — because they worked for firms involved in litigation against the company.

“MSG claims they deploy biometric technology for the benefit of public safety when they remove sports fans from the Garden,” said state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal. “This is absurd given that in at least four reported cases, the patrons who were booted from their venues posed no security threat.”


James Dolan would be barred from denying MSG, Radio City seats under NY legislation
MSG uses facial recognition software to spot people who the company wants to eject from events.
Matthew McDermott

James Dolan sitting and pointing at something alongside another man
MSG CEO James Dolan has banned lawyers tied to litigation against the company from attending events at venues like the famous Garden.
for the NY POST

Radio City – where one attorney got ejected while awaiting a Rockettes Christmas special performance with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop – is already covered by current law, according to his office.

Assemblyman Tony Simone was also reportedly disinvited from an event held at the Garden after participating in a press conference with fellow pols like Krueger — where they warned MSG against continuing the policy.

“That’s dystopian. How would you know if other corporate leaders won’t start using this? How do we know if they are already using it? Come on,” Simone told The Post.

Simone also hinted at the leverage city and state officials have over the company whether or not the bill ever becomes law, considering the public perks that help its bottom line.


Hoylman-Sigal sitting with hands in front of him at a legislative hearing with a photographic background of the state Capitol.
Hoylman-Sigal is sponsoring a new bill that would block MSG from denying entry at its arena to the “legal enemies” of CEO James Dolan.
AP

Liz Krueger in a purple pattern blouse speaking on the floor of the NYS Senate in Albany
State Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger has questioned whether MSG ought to get some public benefits considering the policy of booting attorneys tied to outside litigation.
AP

“Madison Square Garden operates under a special permit from New York City, with licenses from the State Liquor Authority and receives a significant State tax abatement,” Simone said. “Any policies that bar members of the public for non-safety reasons must cease immediately.”

MSG Entertainment has defended the policy – which a judge blasted last week as “the stupidest thing ever” – by noting a private company can deny services to people it does not want to serve.

“The fact that these politicians have so courageously taken on the ‘plight’ of attorneys representing ticket scalpers and other money grabbers speaks volumes about their priorities,” a spokesperson said. “We urge these elected officials to introduce legislation that addresses issues their constituents are actually concerned with rather than focus on amending a poorly worded and misinterpreted 80-year-old law.”


Simone in a blue suit standing on a sidewalk next to a small tree
Assemblyman Tony Simone was disinvited from a Madison Square Garden event after speaking out against Dolan.
Facebook/Tony Simone

The company went on to claim that images of people flagged by facial recognition tech are not stored by the company unless they were “previously advised” they are banned from company venues or “whose previous misconduct in our venues has identified them as a security risk.”

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