The Garden Looks Westward

The owners of New York City’s Madison Square Garden are reportedly talking about moving the arena down the street in what would be the fifth incarnation of the vaunted facility.

MSG would move a block west of its current location, where it has set atop Pennsylvania Station since 1968. Nobody’s talking on the record but executives close to negotiations told The New York Times the new building would be built on the western end of the James A. Farley Post Office.

The current digs would be destroyed to make way for skyscrapers containing apartments, offices and stores. The new building would have wider concourses with stores and restaurants, luxury boxes, betters sight lines, a museum and a hall of fame, the Times said.

“It’s almost a precondition that the Garden has to move for Penn Plaza to fulfill its destiny as a first-class office center,” real estate exec Mary Ann Tighe told the paper. “It’s logical that a great transportation hub like Pennsylvania Station be surrounded by some of the city’s great office towers.”

The office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged MSG owner Cablevision to move its venue in 2003 and 2004, in hopes of quelling the company’s complaints about a proposed stadium for the New York Jets. But Cablevision stood by its present location, saying it would add $300 million in improvements. Meanwhile, momentum for the Jets stadium waned.

“It’s ironic that Cablevision may come out of this a double winner, not only defeating the Jets, but achieving an optimal location,” Tighe said.

Developers could easily pay more than $500 million for the new property, the Times said, and it’s debatable whether the Garden would be annexed to the post office or if the P.O. would be demolished to make way for a new building. Any plans to move MSG will require city approval.

A MSG spokeswoman told Pollstar there was no comment on the article, adding that owners still plan to renovate the facility. The Garden has been in NYC in one shape or another since P.T. Barnum opened the first version in 1874.