Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan stands by his decision to use facial recognition to ban lawyers who work at firms suing him: ‘Please don’t come’

January 27, 2023, 4:11 PM UTC
Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan defends the venue's use of facial recognition technology.
Ethan Miller—Getty Images

James Dolan knows he has to see the lawyers suing him in a courtroom, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see them at a Knicks game or Billy Joel concert.

To prevent that, the owner of Madison Square Garden says he has begun using facial-recognition technology at the arena to prohibit entry from lawyers who work at firms that have ongoing lawsuits against MSG.

“If somebody sues you, that’s confrontational. It’s adversarial,” he told the local Fox station in New York. “If you’re being sued, you don’t have to welcome the person into your home… We’re just asking you, please don’t come until you’re done with your argument with us. And, yes, we’re using facial recognition to enforce that.”

A number of attorneys have said they were prohibited from entering MSG because of their employer, even if they weren’t involved in the suit against the venue. That has caught the eye of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who sent a letter this week to the venue asking for more information about the policy, noting that it could be illegal.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Dolan says that when the suits are completed, the attorneys are “very much welcome” and noted MSG is a private company.

MSG, for the past 40 years, however, has been exempt from city property taxes, which works out to a $43 million abatement each year.

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