James Dolan's Madison Square Garden facial recognition attorney ban challenged by attorney general

Stefan Bondy and Larry McShane, New York Daily News on

Published in Basketball

NEW YORK — The state attorney general is going one-on-one with Madison Square Garden boss James Dolan.

Letitia James, responding to a controversial MSG ban blocking lawyers involved in litigation against MSG from attending events at the “World’s Most Famous Arena” and other Dolan properties, asked for “justifications for the company’s policies” in a letter sent this week to Garden officials.

Dolan, executive chairman and chief executive officer of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. and owner of the Knicks and the Rangers, fired back Thursday in a rare Q&A on Fox 5′s “Good Day New York” program, defending the use of facial recognition technology to exclude from the Garden.

“If someone is suing you, that’s confrontational,” he said. “It’s adversarial. If you’re being sued, you don’t have to welcome that person into your home.”

Dolan also defended himself against critics, including New York City lawmakers who proposed legislation allowing his perceived critics access to Garden events.

“People say, ‘You’re so sensitive, you shouldn’t defend yourself,’ ” Dolan declared during the pointed 17-minute interview. " It’s like something out of ‘The Godfather’ — like, ‘It’s only business.’ The Garden has to defend itself.”


The attorney general questioned the Garden’s use of technology to identify its targets, adding research suggested the company’s use of the software “may be plagued with biases and false positives” against people of color and women.

“MSG Entertainment cannot fight their legal battles in their own arena,” read the two-page letter sent by James. “Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall are world-renowned venues and should treat all patrons who purchased tickets with fairness and respect ... We are urging MSG Entertainment to reverse this policy.”

The AG’s letter also mentioned other MSG properties including the Hulu Theater and the Beacon Theater.

Dolan said the attorney general was “just asking questions” about the hullabaloo created after details of the ban were made public this past October when attorney Larry Hutcher, a longtime Knicks season ticket holder, was barred because his law firm represented ticket resellers suing MSG.


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