'Petty and Vindictive Behavior': Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan Defends Kicking Out Lawyers Who Work For Firms Involved With Lawsuits Against the Venue

"If you're being sued, you don't have to welcome the person into your home."

learn more about Gabrielle Bienasz

By Gabrielle Bienasz

Paul Bereswill / Contributor
James Dolan of Madison Square Garden Entertainment.

James Dolan, the CEO of Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSG) took his growing chorus of critics to task in an interview with FOX 5's Good Day New York on Thursday.

The company has a policy that doesn't allow lawyers who work for firms involved with legal battles with MSG to attend events at MSG venues such as Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and the Beacon Theatre. The policy recently came under fire after using facial recognition to identify (and then remove) such a lawyer in December. It's possible the policy has affected lawyers at more than 90 firms, New York's attorney general Letitia James' office has said.

Related: A Girl Scout Mom and Lawyer Was Denied Entry to Rockettes Show After Being Recognized By Facial Recognition Tech

"If somebody sues you, that's confrontational... And it's fine. People are allowed to sue, right? But at the same time, if you're being sued, you don't have to welcome the person into your home," Dolan told Fox anchor Rosanna Scotto.

Dolan went on the show in the wake of a bill introduced in the state legislature related to this policy and an inquiry from James' office. The New York's State Liquor Authority, which regulates the sale of alcohol is also investigating the company for a potential violation of a law that requires people who have liquor licenses to be open to the general public, per Gothamist.

MSG is a private venue but receives an estimated $43 million a year through a tax break.

In September 2022, brokers who hold season tickets to the Knicks and New York Rangers sports teams sued MSG for not renewing their season tickets, per the New York Post. The group claimed MSG used to solicit their business to boost profits, but stopped after the Knicks became more popular.

In a filing in October, it was noted that MSG had barred the attorneys from the firm representing the resellers, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, from entering any of its venues, per the Post.

Later in December, the policy received more public attention after Kelly Conlon, an attorney at a law firm in New Jersey, Davis, Saperstein, and Salomon, went to a show with her daughter at Radio City Music Hall — and was not allowed in.

Facial recognition technology had identified her as a lawyer with the New Jersey firm, which is involved in a personal injury case with MSG. She didn't work on the case or even in New York, she previously told NBC, calling the experience "mortifying."

On Fox 4, Dolan said "there's no way to tell which attorneys are working on the case and which aren't," and that it's not bothering fans.

He also said in the interview that the company would answer questions from James' office, which has raised the question of the policy running afoul of anti-discrimination laws and he dismissed the State Liquor Authority's (SLA) concerns.

The SLA "is way over their skis," he said, using an expression that often means someone is acting too quickly.

Dolan further threatened to pick a day to not sell alcohol and encourage fans instead to contact the head of the SLA. He also the bill that would, in effect, prevent the company from blocking its list of lawyers.

"Why don't we do something about quality of life in New York and stop worrying about the attorneys who are defending ticket scalpers?" Dolan said.

Brad Hoylman-Sigal, a New York state senator who has been involved with the MSG-aimed bill, told Gothamist the interview was the "petty and vindictive behavior that we've all come to expect from Dolan."

Gabrielle Bienasz

Entrepreneur Staff

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Green Entrepreneur

A Massive Hole In the Sun May Cause Dazzling Light Show Here On Earth

NASA says the coronal hole could blast the Earth with solar winds as early as Friday. What does this mean?

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business News

The 'Airbnbust' Proves the Wild West Days of Online Vacation Rentals Are Over

Airbnb recently reported that 2022 was its first profitable year ever. But the deluge of new listings foreshadowed an inevitable correction.

Business News

Gen Z Loves the Toyota Camry. Here's What Car Brands Boomers Love Most

S&P Global Mobility provides data on what types of each age group likes the most, based on car registration.