June 28, 2018

Hartford Wolf Pack owner MSG eyes sports, entertainment split

PHOTO | Contributed
PHOTO | Contributed

The Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG), which owns the Hartford Wolf Pack American Hockey League franchise, is considering a plan to separate its sports and entertainment businesses.

Also the owners of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, MSG announced on Wednesday its board of directors unanimously agreed to explore a spin-off that would create a separately traded company comprised of its sports businesses.

MSG Sports, the business segment that owns the Wolf Pack, is a major tenant at the XL Center in downtown Hartford.

The proposed split, officials said, would allow company shareholders to better estimate its assets and allow both companies to pursue individual business strategies and investments. The proposed separation would be a tax-free transaction to all MSG shareholders.

If approved, MSG CEO James L. Dolan is expected to become chief executive for both companies.

"We believe this proposed transaction would provide each company with enhanced strategic flexibility, its own defined business focus and clear investment characteristics," Dolan said in a statement.

The sports company is expected to include the following organizations:

  • The New York Knicks and its development team, the Westchester Knicks.

  • The New York Rangers and the Hartford Wolf Pack.

  • The New York Liberty professional WNBA sports franchise, which MSG is exploring a sale.

  • Knicks Gaming, the official NBA 2K esports franchise of the New York Knicks, and a majority interest in esports organization Counter Logic Gaming.

  • A professional sports team training center in New York.

The entertainment company is expected to include:

  • Venues including New York's Madison Square Garden, the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.; The Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston.

  • MSG Bookings, which fills MSG's venues with a variety of entertainment events.

  • MSG Productions, which includes the Radio City Rockettes and the Christmas Spectacular.

  • Majority interests in hospitality group TAO Group and Boston Calling Events, the producer of the Boston Calling Music Festival.

  • A one-third economic interest in the pure-play sports company and $1 billion in cash.

The company said it plans to create state-of-the-art venues called MSG Sphere in Las Vegas by 2020, in addition to a second MSG Sphere in London in 2021.

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