Times are good for New York's Madison Square Garden.
Sure, the Knicks didn't make the NBA playoffs. But the iconic midtown Manhattan venue also is home to the NHL's Rangers and they are on a roll.
By taking the first two Eastern Conference games on the Montreal Canadiens' home ice, the Rangers can claim the title with back-to-back wins Thursday, May 22, and Sunday, May 25, in their home arena.
Then it's next stop, the Stanley Cup finals.
Rangers' fans think that's likely. They are snapping up playoff tickets at record prices. SeatGeek reports that earlier this week Rangers' ducats were selling for an average of $601, up 58 percent since the start of the series.
I'm a hockey fan, so I know that New Yorkers want this round over on Sunday.
The owners of the team and Madison Square Garden, however, wouldn't mind it too much if the Blueshirts waited until Thursday, May 29, to wrap up the conference championship. Another evening with 18,006 free-spending fans is always good for the bottom line.
But then maybe they shouldn't be too greedy. Madison Square Garden, or MSG as fans call it, is in the midst of a 32-year run without paying any Big Apple property taxes.
That's right. One the world's most popular and profitable sports franchises plays in a venue that's gone more than three decades without paying property taxes.
How's that possible? Jim Dwyer explains the streak at MSG in today's New York Times:
Since 1982, the Garden — an enormously successful, for-profit business — has not paid a dime to New York City in property tax for the land and the building it occupies from 33rd to 31st Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. A state law enacted 32 years ago granted the Garden a tax exemption that has no expiration date, a favor given to no other property in the state.
It is, notes Dwyer, "one of the wonders of the world: a chunk of corporate welfare unlimited in size and infinite in time."
Could that be changing?
MSG has heavy-hitting friends, such as Cablevision, that have spent millions in the Empire State's capital. You know as soon as this column was published, the arena's lobbyists were reaching out to folks in Albany.
Plus, you can't ever underestimate the power of winning.
If the Rangers bring the Stanley Cup back to New York City after a 20 year absence, I suspect few people will be in a mood to take any shine off the championship by bringing up a downer like making the champions' home arena pay taxes like everyone else.
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