Jan 26, 2023
MSG’s Dolan Threatens to Pull Alcohol Sales at NY Rangers Games
(Bloomberg) -- James Dolan threatened to halt alcohol sales at New York Rangers hockey games in response to the state’s investigation into his use of facial-recognition technology at properties owned by Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp.
Dolan, the company’s chairman, said in an interview with Fox 5 that the New York State Liquor Authority has been “extremely aggressive” in its investigation and has threatened to take away MSG’s license to sell alcohol. Dolan said he believes officials are targeting his license to generate publicity.
“So we’re going to give them some publicity,” he said. “What we’re going to do is pick a night, maybe a Rangers game, and we’re going to shut down all the liquor and alcohol in the building.”
“This isn’t gonna bother me because I’ve been sober 29 years,” Dolan said. “I don’t need the liquor.”
Dolan added that he planned on posting fliers featuring the face of New York State Liquor Authority chief Sharif Kabir on concession stands that would typically sell alcohol. It will encourage fans to contact his office if they would like to drink during events at MSG.
When pressed about how the move would impact MSG’s bottom line, Dolan said the company’s values are of equal importance. MSG owns the NBA’s Knicks as well as the NHL’s Rangers.
On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office was looking into reports that MSG Entertainment used facial recognition software to prevent certain individuals from entering company venues including Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall.
The New York State Liquor Authority also opened its own probe following a complaint from lawyers engaged in litigation with MSG who said they had been prevented from entering the venues. In a statement, MSG Entertainment reiterated its policy of banning attorneys representing ticket scalpers, personal injury claims and class action clients who have filed a lawsuit against the company.
They are “not welcome in our venues while litigation is ongoing,” MSG said. The company said its facial-recognition software is a tool it uses to provide a safe and secure environment for guests and employees.
Under New York law, retail venues that are licensed by the state to sell alcohol must allow access to the general public.
“We’ve been extremely cooperative and forthcoming with all state agencies,” MSG said. “But we also expect that they give us the opportunity to explain our position.”
(Adds response from company in 10th paragraph.)
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