MSG sues NY Liquor Authority over alcohol ban threat

Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corporation has filed a lawsuit against the New York State Liquor Authority, accusing the regulator of threatening to ban alcohol at its venues.

The Liquor Authority has initiated proceedings that could possibly strip Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and the Beacon Theater of their liquor licenses. 

RELATED: New York's AG says MSG lawyer ban may violate anti-bias laws

"This gangster-like governmental organization has finally run up against an entity that won't cower in the face of their outrageous abuses," said James Dolan, Executive Chairman and CEO of MSG Entertainment in a statement. "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."

RELATED: NY lawmakers call on MSG to stop using facial recognition software

The source of the spat is MSG's use of facial recognition technology to deny entry to lawyers who are involved in litigation against Dolan or MSG. 

Under New York law, retail venues that are licensed by the state to sell alcohol must allow access to the general public. 

"It's very public flouting of the rules that the SLA has the duty to enforce. they wouldn’t be doing their job if they allowed someone to so publicly flout their rules without any consequence," said New York City attorney Ken Belkin.

A spokesperson for MSG told FOX 5 NY that when the litigation ends, the attorneys would be welcome back at MSG, but state lawmakers have been pushing back, saying that the Liquor Authority should pull MSG's liquor license if they continue the practice.

RELATED: Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal urges NHL, NBA to sanction MSG owner James Dolan

"I don't think that this is allowed under New York State Liquor Licensing, so I wrote a letter to the SLA saying ‘Pull their licenses if they continue to do this,'" said New York State Senator Liz Krueger.

During an interview with Good Day New York in January, Dolan himself threatened to stop serving fans alcohol at MSG.

New York Attorney General Letitia James also weighed in on the spat in January, warning that the lawyer bans may violate anti-bias laws.