Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal urges NHL, NBA to sanction MSG owner James Dolan
NEW YORK - New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal is urging the NHL and NBA to sanction MSG owner James Dolan.
Hoylman-Sigal made the announcement Friday on Good Day New York, urging the commissioners of the two leagues to sanction Dolan "unless he ceases his use of facial recognition technology for non-security purposes."
It comes in response after Dolan has been under fire for the controversial use of facial recognition at The Garden and denying access to shows and sporting events to attorneys whose firms are involved in litigation against MSG Entertainment.
"I think New Yorkers understand it in their core that they should not be denied entry into Madison Square Garden simply because a lawyer happened to work for a firm that has a client that is suing James Dolan. It's just unfair and unacceptable," said Hoylman-Sigal.
Hoylman-Sigal continued to say that "to use facial technology to profile fans as they come in, treating every fan like they're a suspect, well nobody should stand for that."
He also highlighted the $43 million annual tax break that Dolan gets.
"Well, Mr. Dolan, you know, he wants to treat Madison Square Garden as, if it's his private property, and it is," Hoylman-Sigal said. "Well I say to James Dolan, ‘If it’s your private property, why don't you pay property taxes? You know, over the last 40 years, we have, as New Yorkers, paid close to $600 million in property taxes to subsidize Madison Square Garden."
New York Attorney General Letitia James had warned the owner of MSG and Radio City Music Hall that it may be violating anti-bias laws with its practice of barring lawyers from its venues if they work for firms suing the company.
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The lawyer ban came to light in October 2022 when attorney Larry Hutcher, a longtime New York Knicks season ticket holder, was told that his seats had been revoked because his law firm was representing ticket resellers that were suing MSG. He filed a lawsuit in response.
The attorney general's office said in a letter to MSG Entertainment that the ban, and the company's use of facial recognition technology to enforce it, may violate anti-discrimination laws and may dissuade lawyers from taking on cases such as sexual harassment or job discrimination claims against the company.
Dolan spoke exclusively to Good Day New York Thursday.
Dolan also threatened to pick a night at Madison Square Garden, possibly a Rangers game, to shut down alcohol sales in response to the New York State Liquor Authority allegedly coming after him about his facial recognition technology.
When asked about the fans, Dolan said, "They don't care at all. I mean, we're talking about a small group of attorneys, right? The lawyers, right? Why would the Knicks fans or the Rangers fans or the concertgoers care about them? They don't. But I will tell you one thing. The SLA was way beyond their skis."
Dolan says the State Liquor Authority is being "extremely aggressive."
During the interview, Dolan held up a sign with a photo of Kabir, the CEO of the State Liquor Authority, along with his contact information. He said the signs will also ask fans to call Kabir if they want to drink at games.
"They're saying 'We're gonna take away your liquor license.' So I have a little surprise, right? Because they're basically doing this for publicity. So we're gonna give them some publicity. All right, what we're going to do, right is we're going to pick a night, right? Maybe a Rangers game, and we're going to shut down all liquor and alcohol in the building. Now, this isn't going to bother me, because I've been sober 29 years. I don't need the liquor. Right? But instead, what we're going to do is where we serve liquor, we're going to put one of these up, which says, if you would like to drink at a game, please call, right? Sharif Kabir, chief executive officer, or write him an email at this number, right? And tell him right, to stick to his knitting and, you know, and to what he's supposed to be doing and stop, stop grandstanding and trying to get press."
In response to the interview, Hoylman-Sigal lashed out at Dolan.
"In his public meltdown on Fox 5 this morning, James Dolan showed why Albany should pass our legislation (S2424) and close the ‘sporting event’ loophole in our Civil Rights Law that allows Dolan to ban fans from Madison Square Garden using facial-recognition technology, simply because they work at law firms with clients he deems opposed to his financial interests."
Hoylman-Sigal called Dolan "the post child of privilege" who is receiving an annual $43 million tax break from the state.
"New York shouldn’t allow petty tyrants to impose their warped fantasies on the public while reaping millions each year from taxpayer subsidies," Hoylman-Sigal stated. "I’m grateful to both the New York State Attorney General and the Manhattan District Attorney for launching inquiries into Dolan’s vindictive business practices intended to silence his critics."