MSG, the company that runs Madison Square Garden and several other key large venues in New York City, says its supports Gov. Andrew Cuomo's railroad station renovation plan that may call for the "friendly" demolition of one of its theatres.
At a Jan. 6 press conference Gov. Cuomo unveiled several proposals to convert the former Foley Post Office on the west side of Eighth Avenue at 34th Street into a bright, modernistic new station, which would replace Pennsylvania Station, the main New York City terminal for both the Long Island Railroad and the New Jersey PATH trains—therefore one of the major access points for theatregoers from those two regions. The governor said he has earmarked $3 billion for the project, which includes retail development on neighboring streets. He said the state is seeking developers to carry out the project.
One of the proposals calls for "A friendly, negotiated condemnation and removal of the MSG Paramount Theater [The Theater at Madison Square Garden], creating the opportunity to construct an 8th Avenue grand entrance with concourse, retail and commercial space."
Asked for comment by Playbill.com, an MSG spokesperson responded, "Here is The Madison Square Garden Company’s statement on the Governor’s plans to transform Penn Station: 'MSG fully supports the Governor's plan and will work to make it happen.'"
No comment was offered regarding the construction of a new theatre as part of the redevelopment.
The original Pennsylvania Station (named for the Pennsylvania Railroad that used it as a hub) opened in 1910 and served as a graceful landmark 10 blocks south of Times Square until 1963 when it was demolished and replaced with an underground warren of tunnels that has attracted widespread criticism. The station handles a reported 600,000 commuters a day, making it the busiest rail station in the U.S.
The station lies beneath both the 20,000-seat Madison Square Garden arena and the 5,600-seat Theatre at Madison Square Garden, which, despite its size, is not considered a Broadway theatre. It is the latter venue that would be affected by one of Gov. Cuomo's proposals.
The Paramount (a.k.a. Theater at Madison Square Garden) has operated under a variety of names including the Felt Forum and the WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. It is used for concerts and family events for most of the year, but holiday-themed shows have dominated at year's end. For a decade the theatre presented the Alan Menken/Lynn Ahrens musical A Christmas Carol. In 2015 the space hosted Elf The Musical.
Numerous plans to build an attractive new terminal on the site of the former Farley Post Office across Eighth Avenue have been proposed, but none has progressed beyond the planning stages. The governor is putting his latest plans out for "requests for proposals" from developers.
Among MSG's other theatres in the city are Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre. This year's Tony Awards ceremony will be held in the latter venue.