State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal has a “complicated relationship with organized sports.” However on Thursday night time, he purchased a ticket to a Knicks sport and headed to Madison Sq. Backyard anyway.
“I was cut from my peewee basketball team when I was a kid, so I’m not, generally speaking, a big fan,” he mentioned on Thursday.
The senator was there to discover out simply how far MSG Leisure CEO and Knicks proprietor James Dolan takes his grudges. Dolan has made headlines for utilizing facial recognition know-how to maintain his perceived enemies out of his varied venues, together with Madison Sq. Backyard. So far, most reported instances have concerned attorneys working for regulation companies suing his holding firm MSG Leisure, which additionally runs Radio Metropolis Music Corridor and the Beacon Theatre.
Each males have publicly feuded in current weeks, and Hoylman-Sigal heard via the grapevine that he’d made it onto Dolan’s blacklist. As we approached the world, he confessed that he felt “some trepidation.”
The state senator is amongst a variety of public figures who’ve criticized Dolan’s use of surveillance know-how to maintain opponents out of his venues. Hoylman-Sigal not too long ago launched a invoice that might add sporting occasions to an current regulation prohibiting “wrongful refusal of admission” to patrons with legitimate tickets to “places of public entertainment or amusement.”
“I’m only trying to work with my colleagues to ensure that when you visit a sporting arena, you don’t have to suffer the embarrassment or humiliation of being denied entry,” Hoylman-Sigal mentioned on Thursday. “That’s why we have a public accommodation law and that’s why we have laws to protect civil rights and free expression.”
Final week, Dolan doubled down on the tactic in a defiant interview on FOX 5 the place he lashed out in opposition to his critics. The Knicks proprietor known as out Hoylman-Sigal by title, railed in opposition to the state senator’s politics surrounding bail reform, and criticized his assist of the “Clean Slate” invoice, which might seal the felony data of individuals convicted of sure felonies or misdemeanors as soon as eligible. He additionally argued that as a result of MSG is personal property, he has the correct to deny service to his adversaries.
“The public needs to tell these politicians and the SLA [State Liquor Authority] to start working on the things that matter to us,” Dolan advised FOX. “Like law enforcement, making it safe in our streets, getting our taxes in line, stop people from leaving New York and ruining our city. Those are the things that Brad Hoylman should be caring about.”
The subsequent day, Hoylman-Sigal shot again. On the identical morning present, he known as Dolan’s use of facial recognition know-how “unfair” and “unacceptable.” He additionally mentioned he’d despatched a letter to the NHL and NBA commissioners, urging each organizations to sanction Dolan except he stops utilizing the know-how. Shortly after the TV look, Hoylman-Sigal bought phrase from somebody in Dolan’s circle that the Knicks proprietor “had eyes” on him, and that he’d been declared persona non grata at Dolan’s venues.
We arrived on the Backyard shortly after the doorways opened for the Knicks sport in opposition to the Miami Warmth, and bought in line on the entrance on Eighth Avenue and thirty fourth Avenue. As we neared the entrance of the road, we may see safety cameras atop a steel scanner. As soon as it was his flip, Hoylman-Sigal took his keys and pockets out of his pockets, positioned them in a bin, and seemed straight into the safety digital camera earlier than strolling via the safety system. Nothing occurred.
The safety guard then gestured to the individual behind us.
“I think we’ve officially made it in,” Hoylman-Sigal mentioned. Because the minutes handed, it grew to become clear nobody was coming to escort him out. As he munched on popcorn, he mused about what this might imply.
“Maybe MSG has reformed its practice. Or maybe I don’t rise to the level of anyone’s threat, which is probably more likely,” he mentioned.
For a temporary second, the senator, who earlier described himself as not being a basketball fan, cheered when the Knicks scored.
“Great arena, wonderful crowd. Exciting game. No one should be afraid to come to Madison Square Garden,” Hoylman-Sigal mentioned.
Perhaps his assist was simply what the Knicks wanted that night time — the workforce ended up profitable by a mere two factors.