Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, other sports, entertainment venues’ liquor licenses on track to dry up

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New York’s State Liquor Authority is moving to strip Madison Square Garden and associated venues of their liquor licenses, according to an exclusive scoop in Saturday’s New York Post.

“This gangster-like governmental organization has finally run up against an entity that won’t cower in the face of their outrageous abuses,” 67-year-old James Dolan told the Post.

Dolan’s properties include Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and the Beacon Theater.

“While others that have been subject to this harassment may have been forced into submission or silence, we are taking a stand on behalf of our fans and the many small businesses who have long been subject to the SLA’s corruption,” Dolan also said.

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The dust-up between Dolan and the SLA began after Dolan used facial recognition technology to ban people from the Garden and other venues. Specifically, he banned people employed by law firms with whom the larger entertainment entity had pending litigation.

One of those people was 44-year-old Kelly Conlon, a New Jersey lawyer who was chaperoning her daughter’s Girl Scout trip to see the world-famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall’s “Christmas Spectacular,” the New York Times reported. Guards identified her via the facial recognition system, and did not permit her entry because she was on an “attorney exclusion list.”

Though Conlon was not involved with any cases against MSG, the law firm for which she worked did have ongoing personal injury litigation with a restaurant under MSG Entertainment’s umbrella, WNBC reported.

In December 2022, SLA fired off a letter to Dolan warning him about disciplinary action related to the bans.

In January 2023, Dolan doubled down on the use of the tech, according to Variety. He also threatened to stop alcohol sales and put up a poster containing the face and contact details for SLA’s CEO, Sharif Kabir so thirsty patrons could let Kabir know what they thought of the situation.

The sticking point, from SLA’s perspective, is that Dolan’s ban violates state rules. Its stance is that liquor licenses require venues to be open to “the public at large,” according to the Post.

Dolan argues that SLA is aligned with the same attorneys MSG banned, and further, that bars and nightclubs routinely ban people for reasons ranging from dress codes to gender. He filed a petition Saturday in Manhattan Supreme Court asking a judge to stop the SLA from carrying on with its apparent plan to strip the licenses, the Post also reported.

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