The Madison Square Garden Co has struck a deal with the City of Ingelwood and the Faithful Central Bible Church to buy the iconic LA venue for $23.5 million and plans to begin renovations this year — promising a redo along the lines of the company’s refurbishments of its NY venues Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and most recently Madison Square Garden. The purchase gives MSG high-profile live-event venues on each coast, joining NY’s The Garden. Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce welcomed the deal, saying the Forum should be a “good economic West Coast outpost” for live music events, which also can help [MSG's] Fuse music network. The Forum deal announced today includes commitments from the company including annual minimum ticket sales guarantees, providing local hiring opportunities, and rent-free uses of the the arena by the city for charitable causes and the parking lot for a weekly farmers market.
Madison Square Garden was benched by last year’s NBA work stoppage: That meant fewer games for its New York Knicks, fewer ticket sales, and less advertising for its MSG Networks. The channel’s absence on Time Warner Cable, the result of …
The fear for a lot of investors is that Madison Square Garden Chairman Jim Dolan has too many agendas that will lead him to avoid compromising with Time Warner Cable in their dispute over payments for channels including regional sports powers MSG and MSG+. Madison Square Garden shares fell 1.4% today — a contrast to the overall market which was up about 1.6% — after Dolan yanked the services from Time Warner Cable on New Year’s Day when their carriage contract expired. The companies remain far apart on terms, and don’t even have plans to resume negotiations. That’s a big risk for MSG: Time Warner Cable accounts for about 2.5M MSG subscribers, about a third of its total. The $112M that the cable company pays annually for the channels amounts to about half of Madison Square Garden’s estimated cash flow for its current fiscal year. But execs close to both companies say that Dolan is determined to show that he’s no pushover. The part time blues guitarist knows he’d probably have to kiss MSG’s music channel Fuse goodbye if he allows Time Warner Cable to drop it — something the pay TV company says it wants to do because so few people watch it. Dolan’s main job as CEO of Cablevision gives him an additional incentive to show his moxie. Time Warner Cable has long pined to
UPDATE, 8:10 AM: MSG CEO Hank Ratner told analysts that he can’t say much about the lockout “in light of (NBA) league restrictions.” But it has created problems. “We are exploring opportunities to bring other live events to the Garden” to replace the lost games, he says. It’s been tough to do so at the last minute, though. Ratner has scheduled two performances and adds that “we’re going to use the influence that we have as Madison Square Garden to schedule as many dates as we can.” Can companies that have bought suites at the Garden cancel them? The company says not to worry — but won’t give specifics. Season-ticket holders can get refunds, including for the eight Knicks home dates that have been lost. MSG is required to send the cash out within 10 days and include a 1% annual interest rate payment retroactive to October 1. The company says the lost games won’t cause its sports TV channels to run afoul of its cable and satellite affiliation agreements. The deals have provisions for work stoppages; hockey and Knicks-related programs will fill in for some of the lost games. MSG Media President Mike Bair says that “the vitality of the market for hockey has been better than last year and better than our plan.” Meanwhile the company continues to upgrade the Garden, and says the total bill should come to $980M.
PREVIOUS, 5:42 AM: We’ll have to wait for the company’s quarterly conference call with analysts to find out what how badly the NBA lockout might hurt the owner of the New York Knicks, MSG regional sports networks, and the Madison Square Garden arena. There was no mention of it in this morning’s earnings report. But the disruption follows a strange quarter as the company closed Madison Square Garden and the Theater at Madison Square Garden for upgrades. MSG reported net income of $21.3M, up 10.5% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $177.6M, down 6.9%. The revenue figure was well ahead of the $173.88M that analysts expected. And earnings, at 28 cents a share, zoomed past the 10 cents the Street anticipated.