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Thread: Madison Square Garden - 4 Penn Plaza - by Charles Luckman Associates

  1. #1

    Default Madison Square Garden - 4 Penn Plaza - by Charles Luckman Associates


    (Severud Associates)

    New York Newsday
    April 5, 2004

    Garden's game face

    Cablevision execs wrestle with what to do about aging venue as plans are under way for competing arenas

    BY HARRY BERKOWITZ AND STEVE ZIPAY

    Cablevision top executives Charles and James Dolan often try to wield their influence behind the scenes and on their own timetable.

    But the Dolans' usual game plan hit a brick wall last week when Mayor Michael Bloom- berg publicly declared they were "scared to death" of a $2.8-billion plan for a new Jets Stadium and expanded Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on the West Side of Manhattan.

    "It is an outrage that you let your own personal economics, or economic interests, stop a major project in this city," Bloomberg said, disclosing telephoned pleas from James Dolan, who is Cablevision Systems Corp. chief executive and chairman of Madison Square Garden.

    For the Dolans and their 36-year-old Garden, the timing could not be worse.

    The premiere venue has been in a slump for years, as its two main sports teams, the Rangers and the Knicks, have failed to make the playoffs. The Garden's MSG cable network lost Yankees games to the YES Network, cutting MSG's advertising and subscriber revenue.

    The Garden's finances are slumping so badly that it axed 80 employees in February and dropped a half-billion-dollar line of credit because it could no longer comply with financial covenants of its loans.

    "They are under siege from a lot of different directions," said Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics specializing in sports at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. "I don't think there are easy answers."

    Plans for competing arenas, including one for the Nets in Brooklyn, threaten to rob Madison Square Garden of many of the events that are its lifeblood, and to put pressure on how much the Garden charges ticket buyers and event sponsors.

    In an interview four years ago, Dolan said the Garden was in urgent need of replacement and a decision needed to be made on where to rebuild within a year. No apparent progress has been made and now it could get harder.

    "The region is heading into an arena glut," said Brian Hatch, a former Salt Lake City deputy mayor who heads the Web site newyorkgames.org, which follows the city's bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. "Everyone is looking at the same U2 concert to make their arena pay off, and I don't think there are enough concerts and enough circuses for all these arenas to make sense."

    Sports analysts said a crowded market, with potential new arenas also in Nassau County and Newark, will make it much harder for the Garden to function without drastic changes.

    "Madison Square Garden is an operationally obsolete facility," said Marc Ganis, president of Sports Corp., a consulting firm based in Chicago. "The Garden operates in a relatively inefficient manner and it has for decades. But because it is the only facility for events of its type in New York City, they have been able to get away with it."

    It is not big enough to house such events as the Final Four of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. It does not have the number of luxury skyboxes that have proved lucrative to new arenas. And the Garden's labor contracts are expensive, industry experts say.

    The Dolans have said little publicly. "We continue to explore all possibilities regarding a new or renovated Madison Square Garden," Garden spokesman Barry Watkins said.

    At least three proposals for a replacement have emerged over the years, including one for a Madison Square Garden tied to the Jets Stadium.

    "MSG didn't want to be a subordinate tenant in that facility, and they don't want to have to share various arena revenue streams," Zimbalist said.

    An executive close to Cablevision said, "The evaluation process is just enormously complex and time-consuming. You have to look at mass transit and parking at a new location, the cost of renovating against the cost of a new building." Building a new Garden is an expensive task, especially without public financing. Ganis estimated the cost at $500 million or more, not including land and demolition costs.

    Dolan has considered building a replacement on the existing site, but that would mean finding temporary facilities for the teams and events and foregoing the huge value of selling the real estate to developers for another type of building.

    The Garden, including the teams, posted operating income of $4.5 million for 2003, down 92 percent from $56 million in 2002.

    Prospects may be slightly brighter this year. Knicks attendance is up and the team appears to be headed for the playoffs. The Garden will host the Republican National Convention in August.

    But Richard Greenfield, an analyst at Fulcrum Global Partners, said Cablevision should just sell the Garden and teams because the justification for owning them has faded.

    "They are trophy assets that could realize greater value outside of Cablevision," he said.

    Madison Square Garden was built in 1968 and underwent a $200-million renovation that was completed in 1991. But a rush of construction in the NBA and NHL has left it among the oldest arenas in both sports.

    Copyright 2004 Newsday, Inc.

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    MSG is a pit and has been for years. The only reason it was never upgraded was because folks like the Dolans had a monopoly on NYC events. They overcharged for tickets, overcharged for food and drinks, and treated patrons poorly. Now they're scrambling. Good!

  3. #3

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    Please please please demolish it and replace it with a redeveloped Penn Station -- MSG atop it or not. Please come up with a plan before the stupid stupid stupid Farley project gets underway. This is where Penn Station must be.

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    If this all leads to the demolition of the Garden and demands a redevelopment of Penn, I would be even happier than I already am with the Farley project.

    Any new project that replaces Farley would have to incorporate design elements and ornamentation from the original Penn Station.

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    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Yeah...and built a new Madison Square Garden next to the jets stadium that way they both could just be friends and share each other sucess. :wink:

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    Quote Originally Posted by lostnyc
    Difficult to imagine how they tear down Penn station which was so solidly built it could have lasted 500 years, tear it down after 60, build a facility that already needed $200 million in renovations before 20 or so years years, and is now called "functionally obsolete" in 38 years and may even be demolished!
    Oh mercy me, the irony...

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    A recent photo:


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    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    The Day After Tomorrow...That is the next movie I have to see! Although the destruction of the city kind of makes me sad in a way. But at least is Hollywood. :wink:

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    Quote Originally Posted by krulltime
    The Day After Tomorrow...That is the next movie I have to see! Although the destruction of the city kind of makes me sad in a way. But at least is Hollywood. :wink:
    I highly recommend the movie! Great ending (NY'ers), but back to the subject, in my own opinion, I think Madison Square Garden is REALLY ugly. And needs a MAJOR update!

  10. #10

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    And another thing,lol, MSG needs to do something fast, becuase WE DO NOT need more NY teams in NJ or L.I. It needs to renovate itself on the same site.

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    That picture really fails to highlight the "experience" of walking by that dump on 8th Avenue. The words I would use to describe the "general" group that can regularly be found hanging around the doors is unprintable.

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    It looks like a giant air conditioner. :P

    As for TDAT, if I wanted that kind of fiction I think I could watch FoxNews and its long awated review of F-911...

    Such is the nature of construction, especially commercial+civil. We will see what happens, but I guarantee you that a rebuilding of Penn will not bring back its original scope. It will be a nice subway station, but I would not put much more money on it than that.

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    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    I can see what MSG can do to reinvent itself....A glass dome on top of the building. Just like the Fulton place. I dont know what the sun lingt will be for but it will make it look better and modern.

  14. #14

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    There's a large pullout in today's (Tues) Daily News that features the history of the Gardens...

  15. #15

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    June 18, 2004

    Seeking Ideas, Garden Plans A Renovation

    By JENNIFER STEINHAUER

    Faced with the prospect of a football stadium rising along the far West Side of Manhattan, the owners of Madison Square Garden have prepared long-anticipated plans to modernize the bustling but aging arena, according to executives there.

    Madison Square Garden, which is owned by Cablevision, has requested architectural plans by the end of this month to fix up the existing space, and the request for proposals contains some of the most detailed plans yet for how the company wants to overhaul the arena. Chief among the additions would be dozens of luxury suites and boxes, new meeting spaces, a museum and hall of fame, a V.I.P. club and greatly expanded restaurant space.

    Cablevision has been at the forefront of a battle against plans to build a 75,000-seat stadium for the Jets as the cornerstone of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's push to revitalize the West Side and expand the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. In recent weeks, Cablevision has been squaring off against supporters of the stadium as both sides pour money into expensive advertising campaigns. James L. Dolan, who controls Cablevision, even went to Albany yesterday to lobby lawmakers against the stadium, said three people familiar with his visit.

    Cablevision officials made a point of saying yesterday that the company would redo the Garden without public financing, in contrast to the plans for the stadium, which would need $600 million in state and city dollars.

    "Madison Square Garden has started the process of a major renovation to create a state-of-the art facility and will do it without taxpayer money," said Barry Watkins, a spokesman for the Garden.

    Under the plans, the renovation, which would start in 2006, would be done in phases to minimize disruption of games and other events at the Garden, and would be completed by the 2008-9 season, the same time envisioned for the opening of a Jets stadium.

    The plans for the Garden still face hurdles, including necessary approvals from the city. In addition, Cablevision itself has had financial difficulties in recent years, and earlier this year Madison Square Garden laid off 80 workers, 3.5 percent of its work force. Analysts say, though, that the Garden has the money to complete the renovation.

    Garden officials are betting that any opposition will be mitigated by their promise to finance the renovation without public funds. (Under a tax exemption, however, the Garden has not paid any real estate taxes for 22 years.)

    Yesterday, Mr. Bloomberg's press secretary, Edward Skyler, declined to comment on Madison Square Garden's plans, but Mr. Bloomberg has been uncharacteristically critical of the Dolan family in the past. In an interview with a Newsday reporter this spring, he went out of his way to discuss a private conversation in which Mr. Dolan urged him to back off the stadium plan, and then the mayor mocked the Garden for its indecision about whether to renovate or find a new location.

    To make even minor improvements, the Garden would require at least one city permit and perhaps several, depending on the scope of the work. While the city cannot legally deny such permits, it is quite plausible that the Bloomberg administration would not put requests from Cablevision at the top of the Department of Buildings' in-box.

    "We really don't like to speculate," Ilyse Fink, a department spokeswoman, said of the time it takes to obtain a permit to alter a building. "We look at the plans and make a determination if they comply with the existing laws."

    Madison Square Garden, which has been at its current location for 35 years, has gone back and forth to the drawing board on its plans to modernize the complex. The Garden, one of the most heavily used arenas of its kind in the nation, lacks the luxury boxes, amenities and modern touches common in arenas in smaller cities.

    Paramount Communications, which owned the Garden in the late 1980's, considered a move to the West Side rail yards but decided that it would be too expensive. In 1999, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani proposed a sweeping plan for the far West Side that would include a new building for Madison Square Garden, but those plans went nowhere.

    A Canadian architectural company that has done business with Cablevision is a potential front-runner, said two people familiar with the plans.

    A reporter placed a call yesterday to that Toronto-based firm, Brisbin Brook Beynon, and asked to speak with the architect in charge of the Madison Square Garden renovation. The reporter was immediately connected to an architect who declined to comment.

    Matthew Higgins, a vice president of the Jets, said his company would support the stadium - sort of. "Unlike Cablevision, we support any business that also wants to invest in New York City," he said. "We think two world-class facilities in Manhattan would be better than one."

    Some sports experts agree. Marc Ganis, a sports consultant based in Chicago, said the Garden needed to renovate to compete not only with a proposed Jets stadium, but also with an arena planned in Brooklyn and other local sports venues. He added that it might make more sense for the Garden to move, since the court floor is elevated, which creates many costs.

    Mr. Ganis said there was ample chance for both sites to flourish financially, and wondered why the Garden has declared war on the Jets. "The thing that is so intriguing is that there are ways of the two stadiums coexisting quite well," he said.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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