Cablevision said it would “explore the spin off” of its Madison Square Garden business, which includes the Knicks, the Rangers and the MSG Network.
The move would let investors buy shares of Madison Square Garden separately from the rest of Cablevision.
At first glance, it seems an appealing prospect for New York basketball and hockey fans who've had to watch as the Dolan family took successful franchises and drove them off a cliff after buying the Knicks and Rangers in the mid-1990s.
But some analysts suspect the Dolan family, which controls 70 percent of Cablevision’s voting rights, could spin off MSG, selling the cable business and focusing on the sports and entertainment business, according to The New York Times.
The spin off would be the first step in selling Cablevision.
Family patriarch Charles Dolan has faded into the background at MSG, concentrating more on the entertainment business, while his son and MSG Chairman James Dolan has become enemy No. 1 in the eyes of fans who've had to suffer through the Scott Layden, Glen Sather and Isiah Thomas eras at The Garden.
“Chuck [Dolan] is not getting younger, so at some point the real valuable asset is selling the cable company,” said Bob Gutkowski, former president of the MSG Network and Madison Square Garden. “Jimmy Dolan has said many times he wants to run these assets for the rest of his life.”
Are you kidding me? That's the worst-case scenario for Knicks and Rangers fan. That would give Jimmy even more time to run the Knicks and Rangers further into the ground.
For years, both teams have had bloated payrolls and marginal results. The Knicks have led the league in payroll for several years, but have made the playoffs just once since the 2001-2002 season. They've finished dead least in the Atlantic Division in three of the last four seasons.
The Rangers missed the playoffs for seven straight years after the Dolans bought the team, but have recently returned to respectability with four straight playoff appearances since 2005. Their payroll is always among the highest in hockey.
Let's hope the opposite is true and the Dolan family decides to end its tyrannical hold on Knicks and Rangers fans by selling both once-proud franchises. That, or Jimmy hands over the day-to-day reigns at MSG while he concentrates on tormenting audiences with the music from his rock band instead.