“‘If somebody sues you, that’s confrontational. It’s adversarial … If you’re being sued, you don’t have to welcome that person into your home.’”
That was James Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden Sports
and Madison Square Garden Entertainment
talking about the controversial facial recognition technology being used at the world’s most famous arena.
During a Thursday TV interview with a local Fox station in New York, Dolan said MSG won’t stop using its facial recognition technology that has barred lawyers who work at firms that are involved in ongoing lawsuits against MSG from attending events there.
“We’re just asking you please don’t come until you’re done with your argument with us,” Dolan continued. “And yes, we’re using facial recognition to enforce that.”
Several attorneys have claimed they have been denied entry into venues the company owns because their firm is in active litigation against with the company, even if they are not personally involved in the case.
Dolan, 67, is part of the ownership for venues including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre — MSG is home to the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers, sports franchises that Dolan also owns.
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New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday, the day before Dolan’s TV interview, sent a letter to Madison Square Garden Entertainment requesting information about the facial recognition policy and questioned its legality.
“Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall are world-renowned venues and should treat all patrons who purchased tickets with fairness and respect,” James said. “Anyone with a ticket to an event should not be concerned that they may be wrongfully denied entry based on their appearance, and we’re urging MSG Entertainment to reverse this policy.”
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“To be clear, our policy does not unlawfully prohibit anyone from entering our venues and it is not our intent to dissuade attorneys from representing plaintiffs in litigation against us,” a spokesperson for MSG Entertainment told ABC about the policy. “We are merely excluding a small percentage of lawyers only during active litigation.”
Madison Square Garden Entertainment was spun off from its sports business in April 2020, creating a separate publicly traded company for MSG’s entertainment division.
The Dolan family’s net worth is $4.8 billion according to Forbes. James Dolan’s father Charles Dolan founded Cablevision, which was recently run by the younger Dolan until it was sold in 2016.
In recent years, some Knicks fans at Madison Square Garden have chanted “sell the team!” at James Dolan during games due to a lack of success by the team during his ownership tenure. Over the past 10 years, the Knicks have finished the season with a winning record only once.