Liquor Authority moves to strip Madison Square Garden of liquor license

It could be last call for alcohol at The Garden.

The State Liquor Authority has initiated proceedings that could strip Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theater of their liquor licenses, The Post has learned.

The agency slapped the James Dolan-owned properties with administrative charges over his banning attorneys from the venues who are in active litigation against him or the Garden, The Post has learned.

If successful, the SLA could prevent fans from enjoying a brew at Rangers and Knicks games, concert cocktails, or nog at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

The four violations — which have not been previously reported — were received via certified mail on Feb. 21. The SLA has demanded a formal plea from Dolan’s properties by March 15.

MSG boss James Dolan is facing the possible loss of liquor licenses for Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theater
MSG boss James Dolan is facing the possible loss of liquor licenses for Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theater

woman drinking beer
James Dolan says he is refusing to back down to the SLA.

James Dolan
James Dolan threatened in January not to serve alcohol at a Knicks or Rangers game and direct angry fans to SLA head Sharif Kabir.

Instead, Dolan, 67, went scorched earth, filing a petition Saturday in Manhattan Supreme Court asking a judge to stop the SLA violations, calling the enforcement “an abuse of power.”

“This gangster-like governmental organization has finally run up against an entity that won’t cower in the face of their outrageous abuses,” Dolan told The Post. “While others that have been subject to this harassment may have been forced into submission or silence, we are taking a stand on behalf of our fans and the many small businesses who have long been subject to the SLA’s corruption.”

Dolan’s corporate entity, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., charged in the fiery 47-page filing: “The SLA’s improper actions are an assault on not only MSG, but also all of its fans, who will be deprived of the full MSG experience if the SLA gets its way and strips MSG of its right to serve alcohol at its venues.”

If the SLA prevails, sports and music fans may be heading into a dry season at the Garden
If the SLA prevails, sports and music fans may be heading into a dry season at the Garden.

The SLA has been probing whether Dolan’s ban, and his use of facial recognition tech to enforce it, violates state rules. Word of the attorney ban first surfaced last year, but the controversy exploded in January, when a lawyer escorting her daughter’s Girl Scout troop to a show at Radio City Music Hall was refused entry.

The feud over booze at the Garden has been brewing ever since.

The combative billionaire threatened to nix booze for a New York Rangers game at the Garden during a January interview on “Good Day New York.” Dolan even held up an image of SLA boss Sharif Kabir and warned he would send thirsty fans his way to complain.

Madison Square Garden, James Dolan's flagship property
Madison Square Garden is James Dolan’s flagship property.
Getty Images

Kabir should “stick to his knitting and to what he’s supposed to be doing and stop grandstanding and trying to get press,” Dolan said.

Kabir; SLA lawyer Michael Ammirato; and investigator Charles Stravalle — who subjected Dolan to a tough interview about the MSG policy last month — were named in the court papers.

The filing additionally accused Stravalle, a former NYPD officer, of launching a “harassment campaign against MSG.”

Ricky Gervais swigs on a pint of beer.
Ricky Gervais swigs on a pint of beer at the Garden in 2008.
Action Images

“Stravalle spent nearly half of the time asking questions that had no conceivable relation to the purported purpose of the SLA’s investigation,” the filing said. “Instead, he asked questions based on speculative media reports or shared his own opinions about the Venue Policy. He was combative and antagonistic throughout
the interview.”

The legal papers additionally noted that during his years as a cop, “questions were raised about crime statistics reported in the precinct where he had been the commanding officer.”

The Garden’s “policy” of targeting attorneys means MSG properties are no longer “open to the public,” the SLA argued in levying the charges, noting the ‘adverse attorney policy” bars members of the public “not for reasons to do with responsibilities under the license, but because such persons have pending lawsuits” against the venues.

Jon Stewart and Pete Davidson and Hasan Minhaj sit courtside.
MSG is a longtime celeb-favorite hangout.

The liquor license requires the venues to be open to “the public at large,” the SLA argued.

The Garden slammed that conclusion as “irrational” and the SLA’s move as “selective enforcement.”

“Many bars and nightclubs regularly exclude patrons who do not meet certain dress codes, display a certain ‘vibe’ or ‘energy,’ act in a certain manner, arrive in a large group of a certain gender, or even have certain skin colors,” the article 78 filing argued.

Madison Square Garden also accused the authority of being in cahoots with the very attorneys it had banned, and claimed law firms Davidoff Hutcher & Citron and Davis, Saperstein & Salomon used their clout to push state regulators to do their bidding.

John Leguizamo and Melania Trump are seen courtside.
John Leguizamo and Melania Trump are seen courtside during the Miami Heat and New York Knicks game in 2005.
Getty Images

“Davidoff Hutcher & Citron (“DHC”) and Davis, Saperstein & Salomon (“DSS”),
appear to have coordinated to get the SLA to go after MSG,” the Garden argued in court papers.

“These firms planted stories in the media, highlighting the Venue Policy and its adverse effect on their lawyers, saw various elected officials support their cause, putting pressure on MSG, and … prevailed upon the SLA to use its authority and resources to go after MSG.”

The SLA has faced litigation in the past from the targets of enforcement actions. In 2016, a collection of karaoke bar owners in Flushing filed a $300 million federal lawsuit claiming the agency and NYPD engaged in intimidation to deter cooperation into a corruption probe of cops in the 109th Precinct. The case was later dismissed.

Reps for the State Liquor Authority, and the two law firms did not respond to requests for comment.