De Blasio: MSG, Barclays Could Be Closed For Months

'This Is Going To Be A Long, Long Battle,' Mayor Says

Ryan Chatelain
March 12, 2020 - 5:32 pm

Large venues such as Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center will likely be closed "for a number of months" as the city and state combat the spread of coronavirus, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

In a news conference, de Blasio, who declared a state of emergency for the city, said "the last 24 hours have been very, very sobering."

"Yesterday morning seems like a long time ago," the mayor said. "We got a lot of information in the course of a day yesterday and a lot changed then, then last night it just seemed the world turned upside down in the course of just a few hours.”

De Blasio said the city now has 95 confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- 42 of them coming in the last 24 hours. The mayor added that the number of cases in the city is projected to climb to 1,000 by next week.

Madison Square Garden
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

"This will not be over soon," he said. "This is going to be a long, long battle. It's going to be a tough battle. We're going to lose some of our fellow New Yorkers. That unfortunately is inevitable. But we can fight back. ... We will unquestionably overcome this. It will take time, but the city will prevail in the end."

Earlier Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on gatherings of 500 or more people in the state.

The NBA and NHL have suspended their seasons. The indefinite closures of New York City's two major arenas could play a factor in whether those seasons are ultimately canceled. Madison Square Garden is the home to the NBA's Knicks and the NHL's Rangers, while the NBA's Nets play at Barclays Center. The NHL Islanders split their home games between Barclays and the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.

Madison Square Garden released a statement saying: “We support Governor Cuomo’s decision and starting tomorrow night, our New York venues will only host events that adhere to the Governor’s very clear parameters. This is a fluid situation and we will be back with further details when available.”

The NCAA announced Thursday it has canceled its men's and women's tournaments. The Garden had been slated to host the men's East Regional.

The mayor did not mention the city's baseball stadiums, but as long as the coronavirus is a threat to the city, it's hard to envision the Yankees and Mets playing home games at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field. Major League Baseball, meanwhile, has canceled the remainder of its spring training games and is delaying the start of the regular season for at least two weeks.

Meanwhile in New Jersey, where the NHL Devils play, Gov. Phil Murphy has recommended all public gathering of more than 250 people be canceled.