Representative democracy strikes again. The New York City Council voted 47-1 in favor of a Penn Station redesign which leaves its above-ground neighbor, the generations-old arena Madison Square Garden, with a 10-year operating permit before ostensibly requiring the facility to shut down for good.
The news comes at a time when the Garden is summing up its own almost billion-dollar renovation project, but now the iconic venue’s only hope for a proper survival hinges on whether Penn Station’s renovation plans fail to come together before 2023. Spin notes that by that time, there will be many new players in the political sphere, including a new mayor who might balk at the likely multi-billion-dollar price tag attached to an ambitious redesign of the busiest train station in North America.
Opened in 1968, MSG has hosted enormous quantities of prominent sports match-ups from Joe Frazier v. Muhammad Ali to NBA and Stanley Cup Finals, and legendary music performances including the 1969 shows leading to the Rolling Stones’ live album Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out, John Lennon’s final concert performance (alongside Elton John), and more recently LCD Soundsystem’s final concert. In addition, it hosted the 5 1/2 hour Hurricane Sandy relief concert, the Westminster Dog Show, and an endless list of musical celebrity from Kanye to the Strokes to Arcade Fire.
Before we get all teary-eyed, might we reflect on the fact that this 1968 version is the fourth iteration of New York’s grandfatherly sporting facility, whose 1879 inauguration endured two relocations in 1890 and 1925 before settling in its present spot.