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Will new Penn Station replace the Garden by 2023?

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SHoP Architects

In a vote that surprised just about everyone, the New York City Council voted 47-1 Wednesday to give Madison Square Garden 10 years to pick up and move from 33rd and 7th so the city can begin forging a replacement plan for Penn Station which sits below the arena.

As the Times reports, "the Council voted to extend the Garden’s special operating permit for merely a decade — not in perpetuity, as the owners of the Garden had requested, or 15 years, as the Bloomberg administration had intended." MSG is expected to lobby the next mayor administration but the overwhelming vote will make the job difficult.

It was the second piece of bad news for the Garden Wednesday. Earlier, it was announced that Barclays Center, in its first year, had surpassed MSG in gross ticket sales for the first six months of the year.

The Council vote is a recognition that Penn Station has become an embarrassment for the city, with its capacity severely limited by the restraints of having the Garden sit atop it. The Garden was built on the site after the original Penn Station, a turn of the century architectural gem, was torn down, leading to a public outcry.

The Dolans have invested a billion dollars in a renovation of the arena, but now may have to look west for a new site. A few weeks back, the Municipal Arts Society sponsored a competition among architects and planners on how to remake the area. SHoP, who designed Barclays Center, offered a plan to move the Garden two blocks west and three blocks south to the site of the Morgan Post Office between 28th and 30th streets and 9th and 10th avenues, not near subway access but close to the High Line.