A vote today by the New York City Council to grant Madison Square Garden (MSG) a 10-year limited permit to operate a sports arena out of its current quarters above New York’s Penn Station is a glimmer of hope to New Yorkers that a new 21st century transit hub might be built there.
In casting its vote to limit MSG’s term to 10 years instead of ‘in perpetuity’ as the Garden requested, the City made it clear that ‘now is the time to get to work and build the Penn Station that New York City and the region desperately need in order to improve transit access and spur economic growth in the city and throughout the region’.
The vote came as welcome news to the Alliance for a New Penn Station, a consortium of civic groups, business leaders and individuals who believe it is vital to the City’s future to re-envision Penn Station and build a new sports arena elsewhere in Manhattan. “Great projects are in New Yorkers’ DNA, they define who we are and who we become,” stated Vin Cipolla, president of the Municipal Arts Society and founding member of the Alliance.
The New Penn project will revitalize the surrounding area, creating a dynamic new 21st century district for New York City, bringing tremendous long-term economic value to the region. A new Madison Square Garden will also play a vital role in the city’s economic and cultural landscape. This is the key infrastructure project of our time, and an essential investment in the future of our city. Now is the time to make it happen.”
Speaking on the regional and global impact of such a project as a new Penn Station, Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association said: “Penn Station should be an economic development anchor for Midtown. Instead, it is a serious challenge to global competitiveness of New York City and the region. Penn Station will spur economic activity just as other modern transportation hubs around the world have done."
It also will improve the commutes of hundreds of thousands of people who cope every day with overcrowded and grim conditions, and pave the way for improved rail service along the Northeast Corridor, which extends from Washington, D. C. to Boston, Massachusetts.
Earlier this year WAN revealed renderings of what a New Penn Station might look like. No word yet from the Garden’s leadership on today’s historic vote.