amNewYork Metro sat down with Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine on May 19 to catch up on several topics: his proposal for the future of the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, congestion pricing, and the migrant crisis and its intersection with education in New York City.
amNewYork Metro: I think it’d be great to start off with your proposal for MSG. What’s the latest on that front?
Levine: Penn Station, the busiest rail hub in North America, is cramped and rundown and really soulless. There’s been plans proposed for decades about how to turn it once again into the grand train station that it could and should be. A lot of those plans have depended on moving MSG. But here we are in 2023, and we still have MSG there and still have a really substandard Penn Station. While it’s possible, MSG could move someday, the truth is, we can build a great Penn Station now. It’s going to require the railroads and MSG coming together to put in place what I think could be a transformative plan for this station: Creating a new mid-block entrance between the arena and to Penn (Station), creating a grand new entrance on Eighth Avenue that would be possible if you knocked down the MSG theater, creating a double height concourse underneath, activating the streetscape with retail and other uses — we can do all those things. We have some leverage to make sure it happens now, because MSG’s special operating permit is about to expire.