The State Liquor Authority has begun the process of revoking the liquor licenses for Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and the Beacon Theater, as they have banned attorneys who are in active litigation against James Dolan or his properties from entering the venues. If the SLA is successful, fans will be unable to purchase alcoholic beverages at Knicks and Rangers games, concerts, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
The SLA has demanded a response from Dolan’s properties by March 15th, after receiving four violations via certified mail on February 21st.
Dolan responded by filing a petition in Manhattan Supreme Court to prevent the SLA from enforcing the violations. In a 47-page document, Dolan called the SLA an “abusive” government organization and accused them of harassing small businesses and his fans. The document also claims that if the SLA gets its way, it will deprive fans of the full MSG experience.
The SLA began investigating the attorney ban and the use of facial recognition technology to enforce it, questioning whether these actions violate state rules.
The attorney ban became public knowledge last year, but the controversy exploded in January when a lawyer accompanying her daughter’s Girl Scout troop was denied entry into Radio City Music Hall.
The SLA argued that the Garden’s attorney policy means that the MSG properties are no longer “open to the public,” which is a requirement for the liquor license. The Garden rejected this conclusion and accused the SLA of “selective enforcement.” They argued that many bars and nightclubs exclude patrons based on various criteria, including dress codes, behavior, or skin color.
Madison Square Garden also accused the SLA of being in collusion with the law firms that had been banned from entering the venues. They claimed that the law firms Davidoff Hutcher & Citron and Davis, Saperstein & Salomon used their influence to pressure the state regulators into going after MSG. The SLA has faced litigation in the past from the targets of their enforcement actions.