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Buoyed by recent comments by Michael Rapino, MSG Entertainment is expecting shows to “begin ramping back up” next month, its president says
By Jon Chapple on 24 Aug 2021
Madison Square Garden Entertainment, owner of the New York arena of the same name, beat analyst expectations in the fourth financial quarter of 2021, sending its share price to US$72.55, an increase of 16.2%, as of close of business yesterday (23 August).
The company’s Q4 results, which reflected the return of live events to its US venues, saw it increase entertainment revenues to US$31.1 million for the three months ending 30 June – up 264% on Q4 2020’s $8.6m – and narrow adjusted operating losses by 12%, from $90.2m to $79.6m. Event-related revenues specifically increased by $3.5m primarily “due to select events held in the current year quarter”, such as three New York Knicks basketball games and a sold-out full-capacity concert by Foo Fighters.
Speaking during the firm’s Q4 earnings call yesterday, MSG Entertainment president Andy Lustgarten said: “While we are clearly operating in a very fluid environment, we successfully navigated through one of the most challenging times in our company’s history and remain cautiously optimistic about the road ahead. Looking back at fiscal 2021, we saw number of positives, and I am proud of the role we played in helping to shepherd the return of live entertainment in New York as our venues hosted the city’s first large-scale events since the start of pandemic.”
He also told analysts that MSG is making “meaningful progress on our next chapter, MSG Sphere in Las Vegas” – one of two high-tech Sphere arenas planned, along with one in Stratford, London – “heading towards the venue’s opening in calendar 2023.”
Lustgarden said he expects “concert touring to begin ramping back up in late September, leading to a strong concert booking schedule on a full-year basis” for the company.
“2022 is currently pacing ahead of fiscal 2020, which was slated to be a record bookings year”
“In fact, fiscal 2022 is currently pacing ahead of fiscal 2020, which was slated to be a record bookings year for our company prior to the onset of the pandemic,” he said, adding that holds at Madison Square Garden are up 50% on 2019, the last pre-pandemic year.
While recent weeks have seen a number of cancellations as the delta variant of Covid-19 spreads, the US continues to lead the way on the reopening of the concert business.
The MSG Entertainment president also referenced recent remarks by Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino that the live music market will explode when coronavirus restrictions are lifted, particularly from 2022 onwards.
“There is real demand for artists to be on the road,” said Lustgarden. “We feel even more confident in this after listening to Live Nation’s recent public comments, where they talk about the touring business for the years to come. Live Nation has a different purview to what we do, because they are buying global tours and mapping them out at the right time, so while we speak directly to artists, they are speaking to whole tours.
“Together – between what we are seeing and hearing from artists, and what we are hearing from Live Nation – we feel really good about not only this fiscal year, but what the future could be for the next few.”
In addition to the Garden (pictured), MSG-owned and/or -operated venues include the Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre, both in New York, and the forthcoming MSG Sphere Las Vegas and MSG Sphere London.
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