(Madison Square) Garden Party

The Times Union’s columnist and resident complainer, Chris Churchill, published a piece this week (3/21/23) about Madison Square Garden and their seemingly permanent tax exempt status. As I read it, I thought about the number of concerts I attended at this venue as a teenager and more recent shows in the past decade or so. In addition to the great shows I saw there, I recalled the expense of event tickets, related merchandise and food/beverage concessions at the arena.

According to Churchill, the arena had revenues in excess of $642 million in a recent three month period, so we’re not talking chump change here, folks. This busy venue is owned by Jim Dolan (the same guy who owns the Knicks and the Rangers, incidentally) who is reputed to be worth $2 billion. Jim also seems to own the have quite the grip on the governor – whichever one happens to be in office, seeing that he gave Cuomo’s campaign more than $500,000 through the years and went in on Hochul’s recent reelection campaign to the tune of $250,000+.

It must be so great to be rich!

My 110+ year old house, with a rental unit which garners me less than $10,000 a year in declared and taxed income, comes with a tax levy of close to $6000 annually, yet a corporation with an annual revenue (in 2022) of nearly $2 billion,  pays nothing. How does this possibly add up?

Well, it seems it doesn’t.

Now, my friends, thanks to a proposal in the new state budget, staying home is also going to cost us all a little more. The draft budget contains a new tax placed upon streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, among others. The state is seeking a new income generator to assist with expenses related to transportation and to primarily support the MTA which, of course, is the NYC transit system.

Does this not strike anyone else as ironic? You’ve got a sports and entertainment venue above one of the major state transit hubs (Penn Station) and the owners of that building don’t pay property taxes.  If the state needs money to maintain and improve transportation in the state, maybe they should just look up.

Without a doubt, going out to the Garden is an expensive night of entertainment. Between parking or transportation, tickets and concessions, we’re talking about hundreds of dollars invested in a good time out. Increasing the cost of a night spent at home by taxing streaming services is not the answer to the state’s financial situation. Ending Jim Dolan’s tax exempt Garden party, though, would most certainly  be a step in the right direction.

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