MIDTOWN, Manhattan (PIX11) — James Dolan, the owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers, has threatened to suspend alcohol sales at Madison Square Garden in response to state officials critiquing his use of facial recognition technology at venues including MSG.
Dolan’s use of the tech at venues including MSG to bar attorneys whose firms are in active litigation involving his holdings has come under fire, including earlier this week from Attorney General Letitia James and the State Liquor Authority. James on Wednesday sent a letter to MSG Entertainment “urging MSG Entertainment to reverse this policy,” while the SLA has said that MSG could face disciplinary action for turning away paying customers.
Dolan on Thursday floated the possibility of suspending liquor sales altogether for a night to make a point.
“In response to their threats, we could pick a night, and shut down all the alcohol in the building,” said Dolan. “We know our fans would be disappointed, but it’s important that we call attention to the SLA’s misguided threats to pull our liquor licenses under false pretense and with jurisdiction on this issue.”
Further escalating the war of words, state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan) on Thursday called Dolan “the poster child of privilege” and said lawmakers should pass legislation closing a legal loophole that allows Dolan’s use of the technology to bar fans.
“New York shouldn’t allow petty tyrants to impose their warped fantasies on the public while reaping millions each year from taxpayer subsidies,” said Hoylman-Sigal in part.
An MSG spokesperson previously defended the policy in a statement to PIX11 News.
“We are merely excluding a small percentage of lawyers only during active litigation,” that statement read. “Most importantly, to even suggest anyone is being excluded based on the protected classes identified in state and federal civil rights laws is ludicrous. Our policy has never applied to attorneys representing plaintiffs who allege sexual harassment or employment discrimination.”
And in a separate response to Hoylman-Sigal’s remarks, an MSG spokesperson questioned why lawmakers weren’t instead focusing on issues like crime and homelessness, while pointing to a screenshot of an apparent Hoylman-Sigal fundraising email in which the senator highlighted his action in opposition to the facial recognition tech’s use.