The latest development to come from Madison Square Garden and CEO James Dolan is one that will likely leave fans very unhappy.
Dolan threatened to cancel all alcohol sales at The Garden – he mentioned a Rangers game – as a response to the New York State Liquor Authority, which is currently investigating Dolan regarding his facial recognition technology that has resulted in several bans against lawyers who are suing him.
Dolan said it all on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York.” with Rosanna Scotto.
“They’re being extremely aggressive and they’re saying, ‘We’re going to take away your liquor license.’ So I have a little surprise for him because they’re basically doing this for publicity. So we’re going to give them some publicity,” Dolan said.
“We’re going to 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 going to bother me because I’ve been sober 29 years. I don’t need the liquor.”
If this night does in fact come to fruition, Dolan added that the normal areas where alcohol is served will have a sign instead.
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“Where we serve liquor, we’re going to put one of these up,” Dolan said, picking up a paper next to him. “It says, ‘If you’d like to drink at a game, please call Sharif Kabir, chief executive officer [of the SLA], or write him an email at this number and tell him to stick to his knitting and to what he’s supposed to be doing and stop grandstanding and trying to get press.”
Dolan also discussed the facial recognition software that he’s used to ban people, using a bakery analogy to explain his thinking on the matter.
“If you owned a bakery, or a restaurant, and someone comes in and buys bread from you and the next day they served you with a lawsuit because they hated your bread, they said something happened to them with it. Then, the next day, they show up to your bakery again and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to buy more bread.’ Would you sell them that bread?
“If you’re being sued, you don’t have to welcome the person into your home, right?
“The real issue that’s going on here is our policy of not letting attorneys who are suing us into our building until they’re done suing us. When they’re done, they’re very much welcome back.”
The SLA sent a letter to MSG on Nov. 29 with a warning that it could be considered a “non bona fide” premises due to the attorney bans. All liquor licensees require public access to the premises.
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“All establishments licensed to traffic in alcoholic beverages by the State Liquor Authority are subject to and are expected to comply with the same laws and obligations, whether they are a small business or a multi-billion dollar corporation,” SLA spokesperson Joshua D. Heller said in a statement to The New York Post. “After receiving a complaint, the State Liquor Authority followed standard procedure and issued a Letter of Advice explaining this business’ obligation to keep their premises open to the public, as required by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.”
Dolan said MSG’s “values” play into why he’s this involved in the situation at hand.
“To be honest, our values are important to us too,” James explained. “The Garden has to defend itself. People say, ‘You’re too sensitive. You shouldn’t defend yourself.’ It’s like something out of ‘The Godfather.’ It’s like, ‘Hey, it’s only business.’ It’s not only business. If you sue us, we’re going to tell you not to come. And if you’re grandstanding with the press and threatening my liquor license, I’m going to say, ‘You know what? Take away my liquor license.’
“People are still going to come to the games.”
New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced that she is seeking information from Madison Square Garden regarding the usage of facial recognition technology.
MSG claimed in a statement that they have been using the technology since 2018 as “one of our tools to provide a safe and secure environment for our customers and ourselves.”
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