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Volume 21 No. 2
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Also on MSG’s radar: Improved Forum, new COO

Hank Ratner’s ties to Madison Square Garden date to 1987 when he was hired as general counsel for Cablevision, which was then MSG’s corporate parent. In 2003, he was promoted to vice chairman of MSG and in 2009 was named president and CEO.

While touring the revitalized MSG, Ratner addressed some other changes within the company.

Can you talk about some of the recent developments within the MSG organization?

RATNER: We have the Forum coming online, another historic building. It will give us a huge presence on the West Coast which the company hasn’t had before. The L.A. market has traditionally been underserved in the concert space. Staples Center is so successful — they have [four] teams and an issue with clearing dates. We’re going to turn the Forum into a tremendous concert venue with the ability to deliver a New York solution and a Los Angeles solution to any artist or sponsor.

What will the Forum renovation cost?

RATNER: We haven’t got into that. We bought it for $23.5 million. We have a deal with the city of Inglewood: When we spend $50 million, they will forgive an $18 million loan. We think we’ll be spending at least at that level.

You’re hiring a new chief operating officer?

RATNER: With the growth that’s occurred over the last few years since we’ve become a public company, we need to figure out smart ways we can grow, like the Forum deal. We are also investing more in Fuse programming. Cable networks are great business. All of this together has people pretty busy. The COO will help manage the company’s three divisions and help us grow, expanding MSG and delivering more value for our shareholders.

How has the opening of Barclays Center affected MSG’s business operations?

RATNER: There’s always been other arenas around, [Prudential Center], Izod Center, Nassau Coliseum. The Garden is people’s preference and their destination. We can’t accommodate everything, so there are alternatives and that’s a good thing. Brooklyn is a big borough and they’ve got a good basketball team. We wish them luck, but fortunately it doesn’t affect our business.

What was your reaction when the Islanders announced their move to Barclays Center?

RATNER: We’re very supportive of the Islanders. We’ve carried their TV rights since the ’70s. We wanted them to stay in this marketplace, and if Brooklyn is what makes sense for them, we hope it works.