I do not always agree with Mr. Eric Adams, Mayor of my home and native New York City. But every now and then, a politician says something that is so obviously correct that the truth of the statement transcends political disagreements and party lines. See Mr. Adams’ openness to moving Madison Square Garden as opposed to renovating it as exhibit A:
I am open [to moving Madison Square Garden]. The Penn Station project is a crucial one. I think that area is ripe for housing, is ripe for investment. … And if that fits into Madison Square Garden moving into another location – maybe we’ll help the Knicks win.
I should say that I partially agree with Mr. Adams. There is a bit to unpack here, so let us bring in the movers.
Firstly, Madison Square Garden is an eyesore that no renovation project can remedy. While it is no more of an eyesore than most sports stadiums, it is a particularly egregious eyesore on account of its origins, design, and location. In order to understand its location, we must examine the history of Penn Station.
As it stands, Penn Station, which sits below Madison Square Garden, is a fourth-world, soul-crushing abomination designed in such a way as to dehumanize every person who walks through it. See what I wrote when I was last in Penn Station one year ago:
Now, unlike Hudson Yards, Penn Station may not be an “economically disadvantaged area” (read: fraudulent designation to allow foreigners, mostly from China, to purchase permanent residency in the United States), but it sure looks fourth world. Whoever designed the interior of that dreadful facility did so to crush the human spirit. That is the only explanation.
If you have been to Penn Station, you should understand what I am describing. However, while the current Penn Station’s design was inspired by a Stalin-era Soviet prison, the original iteration of Penn Station was beautiful. Look at the pictures. In 1963, New York City decided to demolish one of the world’s most beautiful train stations . The current Madison Square Garden thus stands on the ruins of one of New York City’s greatest architectural achievements. King Charles III would most likely be able to provide colorful commentary on the design crime that resulted in this abomination. This is civilizational decline. New York City’s death spiral in the 1970s and 1980s is not a coincidence.
There would be poetic symbolism in moving rather than renovating Madison Square Garden in order to rebuild the formerly glorious Penn Station. Unfortunately, the large chunks of the current renovation project are wasteful and ego-driven, featuring weird modern art flourishes and the use of government force and coercion to take property from existing business owners in favor of a more powerful private business. Thus, taken together, moving Madison Square Garden, which will not happen in any event, will not bring back what was lost.
Now I return to Mr. Adams’ statement. He quipped that moving Madison Square Garden could help the New York Knicks win. To be sure, the Knicks have not done much winning in recent years. In the current millennium (which is properly understood as beginning in 2001), the Knicks have made the NBA playoffs on five occasions. In light of the fact that more than half of the teams in the Knicks’ Eastern Conference make the playoffs every year, one can deduce that this is bad. The Knicks have, in this time, won a single playoff series. Now there are many reasons for the Knicks’ futility, and few likely have to do with the Garden. I will, however, note that the Garden has a serious and pervasive mold problem. Are the Knicks and Rangers fans who are upset about Mr. Adams’ statement immune? I felt like I was drowning the last time I was in the main arena about ten years ago. The mold is impossible to not notice. Say what you will about Brooklyn’s ugly Barclay’s Center (it should be imploded), but I did not feel like my health was at risk when I was last there about seven years ago. The poor players of the beleaguered New York Knicks are forced to play in clearly unsafe conditions 41 times every year. (Where is the Union?) Maybe moving them to a non-moldy arena really would change their fortunes (and health) for the better.