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Sen. Hoylman-Sigal heard he was banned from MSG. So he tried to go to a Knicks game.

Sen. Hoylman-Sigal heard he was banned from MSG. So he tried to go to a Knicks game.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal has a “complicated relationship with organized sports.” However on Thursday evening, he purchased a ticket to a Knicks recreation 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 instructed me 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 hold his perceived enemies out of his numerous venues, together with Madison Sq. Backyard. So far, most reported instances have concerned attorneys working for regulation corporations suing his holding firm MSG Leisure, which additionally runs Radio Metropolis Music Corridor and the Beacon Theatre.

Each males have been publicly feuding in current weeks, and Hoylman-Sigal heard by means of the grapevine that he’d made it onto Dolan’s blacklist. As we approached the sector, Holyman-Sigal confessed that he felt a little nervous.

Some trepidation, I have to admit because I don’t know what to expect. I know he’s vindictive, petty, paranoid — by all accounts, [he] has an enemies list,” he stated. “I’m wondering if me, a state senator representing this neighborhood, may happen to be on it.”

The state senator is amongst a variety of public figures who’ve criticized Dolan’s use of surveillance know-how to hold 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 stated 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 help of the “Clean Slate” invoice, which might seal the felony information 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 proper 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 instructed 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 stated 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 obtained 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 recreation in opposition to the Miami Warmth, and obtained in line on the entrance on Eighth Avenue and thirty fourth Avenue. As we neared the entrance of the road, we might see safety cameras atop a metallic 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 appeared straight into the safety digicam earlier than strolling by means of the safety gadget. Nothing occurred.

The safety guard then gestured to the particular person behind us.

“I think we’ve officially made it in,” Hoylman-Sigal stated. Because the minutes handed, it turned 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 stated.

That’s how, for a temporary second, Hoylman-Sigal turned a basketball fan, wooing and clapping when the Knicks scored in opposition to the Warmth.

“Great arena, wonderful crowd. Exciting game. No one should be afraid to come to Madison Square Garden,” Hoylman-Sigal stated.

Perhaps his help is simply what the Knicks wanted that evening — the New York workforce ended up profitable by a mere two factors.

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