New York Rangers fans have had a lot to celebrate lately. At least they did until team owner and Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan recently threatened to ban alcohol sales at an upcoming game.
The New York State Liquor Authority recently opened an investigation into Dolan’s use of facial recognition technology at Madison Square Garden to bar legal enemies from attending games or concerts. All retail liquor licensees, like Madison Square Garden, must allow access to the general public in order to maintain the license.
In response, Dolan went on FOX 5’s “Good Day New York” and threatened to shut down alcohol sales at a Rangers game in the near future.
“They’re being extremely aggressive, and they’re saying, ‘We’re gonna take away your liquor license,'” Dolan said of the SLA. “So, I have a little surprise for them. They’re basically doing this for publicity, so we’re going to give them some publicity. What we’re gonna do is we’re gonna pick a night, maybe a Rangers game, and we’re going to shut down all the liquor and alcohol in the building.”
Dolan said the temporary pause on alcohol sales wouldn’t affect him because he has been sober for nearly three decades.
“This isn’t going to bother me because I’ve been sober 29 years,” Dolan said. “I don’t need the liquor.”
Dolan then went on the attack against Sharif Kabir, the CEO of the SLA. Dolan said he would post flyers encouraging people to contact Kabir everywhere fans could normally purchase liquor.
“Instead, what we’re gonna do is, where you can get liquor, we’re gonna put one of these up,” Dolan said. “It says, if you would like to drink at a game, please call Sharif Kabir, Chief Executive Officer. … Tell him to stick to his knitting and what he’s supposed to be doing and stop grandstanding and trying to get press.”
SLA spokesperson Joshua D. Heller sent a statement to the New York Post in which he emphasized the importance of every business following the same rules, no matter how big or small it may be.
“All establishments licensed to traffic in alcoholic beverages by the State Liquor Authority are subject to and are expected to comply with the same laws and obligations, whether they are a small business or a multi-billion dollar corporation,” Heller said in his statement. “After receiving a complaint, the State Liquor Authority followed standard procedure and issued a Letter of Advice explaining this business’ obligation to keep their premises open to the public, as required by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.”
With the Rangers currently occupying third place in the Metropolitan Division, just six points behind the rival New Jersey Devils, fans will undoubtedly be packing Madison Square Garden throughout the rest of the season. They may just need to find somewhere to get a drink beforehand.