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Famed New York venues heading for record 12 months

Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s famed MSG and Radio City Music Hall venues are on track to set new records for the number of concerts held in a year.

The New York-based business made the disclosure during its financial report for the fiscal Q3 2024, in which it reported revenues of $228.3 million – up 13% on the prior year quarter. In addition, it posted operating income of $16.8m and adjusted operating income of $38.5m, down $7.9m and $11.6m, respectively, as compared with the same period 12 months ago.

MSG Entertainment’s portfolio includes New York City’s 20,000-cap MSG, The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre, along with the firm’s entertainment and sports bookings business and long-term arena licence agreements with the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

“Our business continues to outperform our original expectations for fiscal 2024, and we are on track to generate robust growth in our first full year as a standalone public company,” says executive chair and CEO James Dolan. “Looking ahead, we remain confident in the strength of our assets and our ability to generate long-term value for our shareholders.”

Speaking to investors on the firm’s earnings call, Dolan added: “Our booking business, has continued to grow and remains set to achieve a low double-digit percentage increase in events for fiscal 2024. This includes contract growth across all of our venues, with the Garden and Radio City both headed towards setting new records for a number of concerts in the year.”

“For the third quarter, the majority of concerts at our venues were once again sold out”

He continued: “During the quarter, our portfolio of venues hosted more than 1.5 million guests at over 200 live events. A majority of these events were driven by our bookings business, which delivered a double-digit percent increase in total concerts versus the prior year quarter.

“As the volume of events at our venues continues to increase, we are pleased to see it matched by strong demand. For the third quarter, the majority of concerts at our venues were once again sold out.”

The company’s share price has dipped around 8% over the past week to stand at $36.44 at press time.

MSG spun-off its live entertainment and MSG Networks divisions last year to create two distinct companies – Sphere Entertainment and MSG Entertainment Corp. Sphere Entertainment reported an operating loss of $40.4m on revenues of $321.3m for fiscal Q3.

 


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Jennifer Lopez announces North American tour

American pop icon Jennifer Lopez is set to embark on a 34-date arena tour across the United States and Canada this summer in support of her latest album, This is Me…Now.

The Live Nation-promoted venture corresponds with her ninth studio album of the same name and movie, This is Me…Now: A Love Story. The album and Amazon Original film, described as “Jennifer Lopez’s story in Jennifer Lopez’s words,” were released today (16 February).

J.Lo’s 30-city trek will kick off at Orlando’s Kia Center (20,000-capacity) on 26 June. The Latin icon will go on to play Austin’s Moody Center (15,000), Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena (20,000), Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena (19,800), and a hometown show in New York City’s Madison Square Garden (19,500). The tour will wrap up at Toyota Center (19,000) in Houston, Texas on 31 August.

Fan presale tickets are available beginning tomorrow, 20 February, at 9 AM local time, with additional presales being held in the week ahead. General on-sale begins next Friday, 23 February, at 10 AM local time.

The 54-year-old’s latest tour is her first since her 2019 outing, the It’s My Party tour, which grossed over US$50 million across the US and six international shows in Spain, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel.

The 13-track album is her first in nearly a decade, with songs being highlighted alongside her catalogue of chart-breaking hits across a decades-long discography during her forthcoming performances.

THIS IS ME…NOW THE TOUR DATES:
Wed Jun 26 | Orlando, FL | Kia Center

Fri Jun 28 | Miami, FL | Kaseya Center

Tue Jul 02 | Austin, TX | Moody Center

Wed Jul 03 | Edinburg, TX | Bert Ogden Arena*

Fri Jul 05 | San Antonio, TX | Frost Bank Center

Sat Jul 06 | Dallas, TX | American Airlines Center

Tue Jul 09 | Phoenix, AZ | Footprint Center

Thu Jul 11 | Los Angeles, CA | Kia Forum

Sat Jul 13 | Anaheim, CA | Honda Center

Tue Jul 16 | San Francisco, CA | Chase Center

Wed Jul 17 | Sacramento, CA | Golden 1 Center

Fri Jul 19 | Palm Springs, CA | Acrisure Arena

Sat Jul 20 | Las Vegas, NV | T-Mobile Arena*

Mon Jul 22 | Denver, CO | Ball Arena

Wed Jul 24 | Tulsa, OK | BOK Center

Fri Jul 26 | Rosemont, IL | Allstate Arena

Sat Jul 27 | Indianapolis, IN | Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Tue Jul 30 | Pittsburgh, PA | PPG Paints Arena

Wed Jul 31 | Detroit, MI | Little Caesars Arena

Fri Aug 02 | Toronto, ON | Scotiabank Arena*#

Mon Aug 05 | Montreal, QC | Bell Centre*#

Wed Aug 07 | Boston, MA | TD Garden

Fri Aug 09 | Belmont Park, NY | UBS Arena

Sat Aug 10 | Newark, NJ | Prudential Center

Tue Aug 13 | Philadelphia, PA | Wells Fargo Center

Wed Aug 14 | Washington, DC | Capital One Arena

Fri Aug 16 | New York, NY | Madison Square Garden

Tue Aug 20 | Cleveland, OH | Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse*

Thu Aug 22 | Nashville, TN | Bridgestone Arena

Sat Aug 24 | Raleigh, NC | PNC Arena

Sun Aug 25 | Atlanta, GA | State Farm Arena

Tue Aug 27 | Tampa, FL | Amalie Arena

Fri Aug 30 | New Orleans, LA | Smoothie King Center

Sat Aug 31 | Houston, TX | Toyota Center*

*Verizon Up Presale Not Applicable | #Citi Presale Not Applicable

 


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KISS to livestream final concert on PPV

KISS have announced their final ever concert will be livestreamed worldwide on pay-per-view.

The legendary American rock band will bring the curtain down on their 50-year career with the show at New York’s Madison Square Garden on 2 December.

The show, which will be broadcast on PPV.com, will begin at 8pm EST and will cost $39.99 in the US and Canada and $19.99 outside North America.

The group, who initially announced their retirement in 2000, began their End of the Road tour almost five years ago in Vancouver, Canada. The run has encompassed 13 tour legs and 253 shows.

KISS previously livestreamed their 2020 Goodbye concert on New Year’s Eve 2020, filmed at Dubai’s Atlantis hotel.

Meanwhile, the band’s longtime manager Doc McGhee has joined the advisory board of eResonate Media Corporation, which is billed as “the first live entertainment social network”.

“With the technology we have, I think you’re going to see something truly amazing for the music industry”

eResonate aims to “significantly boost revenue and engagement” by ensuring that venues and performers receive all generated revenue from their eResonate live broadcast performances. The company is seeking to bridge what it calls the “current annual live music industry revenue gap of less than $25 billion” by providing access to over $300bn in digital and television advertising revenue.

“With the technology we have, I think you’re going to see something truly amazing for the music industry,” says McGhee.

“Having known Doc since my MTV days, working with him to deliver compelling live entertainment excites me,” adds eResonate CEO Jeffrey Yapp. “We couldn’t hope for a better partner and confirmation of our business model from a more substantial industry figure than Doc McGhee.”

Subscribers can click here to revisit IQ‘s career-spanning 2023 feature on McGhee.

 


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MSG Entertainment revenue dips due to less concerts

Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE) has reported revenue of US$142.2 million in its fiscal 2024 first quarter, down 3% ($4.2m) year over year.

The financial results are MSGE’s first as a standalone live entertainment company after it spun off from MSG’s Sphere and MSG Networks businesses in April.

MSGE – which owns venues including New York’s Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre – said event-related revenues narrowed by $8.3m compared to the same period last year.

“This decrease primarily reflected a lower number of concerts held at the company’s venues as compared to the prior year quarter, partially offset by higher per-concert revenues in the current year period,” MSG Entertainment said.

The prior-year quarter benefited from some concerts that were rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, plus, Madison Square Garden (cap. 21,000) enjoyed a 15-show run from Harry Styles from 20 August to 21 September 2022 that grossed $63.1m from 277,000 ticket sales, according to Billboard Boxscore.

Also revealed in the fiscal Q1 report, MSG Entertainment booked an operating loss of $33.4m (an increase of $22.1m as compared to the prior year quarter) and an adjusted operating loss of $0.7m, as compared to adjusted operating income of $11.5m in the prior year quarter.

The prior-year quarter benefited from some rescheduled concerts, plus, MSG enjoyed a 15-show run from Harry Styles

The company attributed the increase in its losses to restructuring charges, higher selling, general and administrative expenses, and lower revenues.

However, MSGE’s chief financial officer Dave Byrnes expressed optimism about the future, stating that the company’s venues are poised to surpass their concert goals for the year.

The company will achieve a low double-digit percentage increase in event bookings this fiscal year, thanks to a new generation of artists who have graduated from smaller buildings in its portfolio to its flagship venue, Madison Square Garden.

“This fiscal year, there are a number of acts, including Olivia Rodrigo, Tyler Childers and Niall Horan, who previously performed at either The Beacon [Theatre] or Radio City [Music Hall] that will soon headline the Garden for the first time in their careers,” said Byrnes. What’s more, he added, “a number of these first-time acts” are playing multiple nights and experiencing “strong ticket demand for their entire run.”

“We’re currently on sale with more concerts at our venues than we were at this time last year for the second half of fiscal ’23,” said Byrnes, “and of those on-sales, a majority of those tickets are already sold, and sell-through on those shows is currently up [a] high single-digit percentage as compared to the second half of fiscal ’23.”

Looking at the full fiscal year, MSGE is estimating revenues of $900m to $930m, operating income of $85m to $95m and adjusted operating income of $160m to $170m.

 


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MSG’s London Sphere plans ‘moving forward’

Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment boss James Dolan says the company’s controversial MSG London Sphere scheme is “moving forward”.

MSG’s futuristic $2.3 billion Sphere at The Venetian in Las Vegas, US, launched to rave reviews last Friday with U2’s U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At Sphere residency, but progress on a proposed London replica has been slow.

But speaking to Variety, MSG executive chair and CEO Dolan insists the development – along with other potential spinoffs outside North America – is “still very much moving forward”.

“That is definitely a big part of the business plan, to build more Spheres all over the world,” he adds. “And by the way, different-size ones too – probably not much bigger than the one in Vegas, but we’ve actually gone through already architectural drawings and designs for smaller Spheres for smaller markets.”

Plans for the 21,500-cap UK venue, which would become MSG’s first property outside of the US, were first announced more than five years ago and were approved in principal by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) in March last year, despite objections from various parties.

However, AEG called on levelling up secretary Michael Gove to block the proposal earlier this year. Gove issued a holding direction to the LLDC, meaning the organisation and London mayor Sadiq Khan are prevented from signing off the plans before Gove rules on whether they need to be “called in” for further scrutiny.

If given final approval, the Sphere will be located in Stratford, east London, four miles from AEG’s The O2 (20,000-cap) in North Greenwich. AEG is a longtime critic of the scheme, having voiced concerns over its proximity to The O2 and – according to a 2019 investigation by The Times – creating a residents’ group in opposition.

“Since we have the experience of building the first one, it won’t be as expensive as the first one”

MSG has suggested that London has an “undersupply” of dedicated large entertainment venues compared with cities such as Berlin, Paris, Madrid and New York. The capital’s next biggest indoor spaces are the 12,500-cap OVO Arena Wembley and the 10,400-cap Alexandra Palace.

The construction costs of the “next generation” Vegas project escalated to $2.3 billion (€2.1bn) – leading some observers to query whether subsequent venues would be too expensive to build (the estimate for the London development was widely reported as £800m, pre-pandemic).

“We have a fully developed construction design and construction company that has a lot of experience building all over the world,” he says. “And since we have the experience of building the first one, it won’t be as expensive as the first one.”

Dolan expects the Vegas Sphere to be profitable despite costs running almost double its original $1.2bn budget.

“Yes, I absolutely expect it to be profitable,” he says. “Will it generate enough profits to justify the capital that was put into it? I think so, but it remains to be seen. I mean, so far, the biggest hurdles in that is making sure that you have a product that the consumer is going to want. And what I’ve seen of our product, I think we have that.

“And then it comes down to marketing and selling tickets and generating revenue and sponsorships, and that all looks like it’s on a very good trajectory. We’re already seeing worldwide interest from other countries that are talking to us about building [Spheres] for them.”

The London project was back in the headlines this week, with the Evening Standard reporting that developers had offered locals blackout blinds to make up for the glowing images they would be broadcasting via the structure’s external LED panels. Officials gave the green light to its digital advertising display plans in January 2023.

 


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OVG and MSG launch ‘revolutionary’ partnerships entity

Oak View Group, Madison Square Garden Entertainment and its sister company Sphere Entertainment are joining forces on a new entity that will manage their sports and entertainment brand partnerships, in what is being billed as the first global company of its kind.

Crown Properties Collection will manage many of the companies’ most prominent and lucrative sports partnerships, such as with the New York Knicks and Rangers, across some of their top venues, including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the soon-to-open Sphere Las Vegas.

In addition to being founding partners, the Madison Square Garden (MSG) family of companies will be the first clients of the Oak View Group-led venture, which will oversee global partnership sales and strategy for them. MSG and Sphere will contribute advisory services to Crown Properties and help in retaining the brand partners.

Jay Voelker, formerly of PGA, will join OVG as president to lead CPC and will report to OVG CEO Tim Lieweke.

“Crown Properties Collection will represent only the most valuable properties in all of sports and entertainment together with the most revolutionary venue in the world, Sphere in Las Vegas,” Oak View’s chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke said in a statement. “This, along with [Oak View Group’s] already industry-leading global partnerships platform, which has proudly sold $4.5B in partnerships over the last five years, will create the largest partnership of its kind in the live industry.”

Voelker adds: “Crown Properties Collection’s purpose is to provide unprecedented global representation for world-renowned sports and entertainment brands and venues, and there is no greater portfolio to begin with than the MSG family of companies’ world-class assets. I am honoured to join OVG, the leading full service live entertainment and hospitality company to represent CPC and create a new model for global partnerships in our industry.”

David Hopkinson, president and chief operating officer of MSG Sports, who oversees global marketing partnerships across the MSG family of companies, says the alliance is set to “revolutionise the partnership space across the sports and entertainment industries”.

“CPC will revolutionise the partnership space across the sports and entertainment industries”

MSGE’s portfolio includes New York City’s 20,000-cap Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre, along with the firm’s entertainment and sports bookings business and long-term arena licence agreements with the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

Sphere Entertainment encompasses the first Sphere venue – the 20,000-cap Sphere at The Venetian in Las Vegas – as well as MSG Networks. The Sphere is due to open on 29 September with a 25-date residency by U2.

In a recent appearance on The Bob Leftsetz Podcast, Leiweke spoke highly of MSG Entertainment’s Las Vegas Sphere project.

“If you don’t think the industry is changing, then go look at what Jim Dolan’s building with Sphere, because it’s revolutionary. It’s masterful,” he said. “I don’t know how heck he came up with all of this [and I’m] not sure how the hell you pay for it. But what I know is he’s going to change our industry forever. And the minute that opens up in September we will never be the same.”

OVG owns 11 major new arenas either open or under development including Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center, UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York, and Moody Center in Austin, Texas, and Acrisure Arena in Palm Springs, California, as well as the Co-op Live development in Manchester, UK.

In recent years, OVG has also acquired a number of companies in the hospitality industry including Bovingdons Catering, Spectrum Catering, Concessions & Event Services and Rhubarb Hospitality Collection.

 


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Lionel Richie axes MSG concert an hour after start

Lionel Richie and Earth, Wind & Fire cancelled their sold-out concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday (12 August), an hour after it was due to begin.

With 20,000 fans in the venue, the start of the co-headline show was initially pushed back an hour before it was subsequently cancelled.

“Due to severe weather and being unable to land in the NY and surrounding areas, I’m unable to make it to the show tonight,” 74-year-old Richie tweeted at 8:31 pm.

“I’m so bummed. We are rescheduling the show to Monday Aug 14. Can’t wait to perform for you all. Tickets for tonight’s show are valid for the show on Monday.”

“Due to severe weather and being unable to land in the NY and surrounding areas, I’m unable to make it to the show tonight”

Earth, Wind & Fire were due to play a headline show at Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater, Bridgeport, Connecticut, this evening which has now been pushed back to Wednesday (16 August).

The co-headliners are in the midst of their Sing A Song All Night Long Tour, which includes 20 dates in the US and Canada between 4 August and 15 September. Richie has said it is “the tour I’ve been trying to do for years”.

Tickets for the arena tour range from $18 in Minnesota to $104 in Toronto.

 


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MSG accuses SLA of ‘colluding’ with banned lawyers

Madison Square Garden is accusing the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) of “colluding” with lawyers over an investigation that threatens to strip the World’s Most Famous Arena of its alcohol licence.

It was revealed last December that Madison Square Garden Company was using facial recognition technology to prevent “attorneys from firms pursuing active litigation against the company” from entering its venues. The ban covers venues including MSG, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and the Chicago Theatre.

Lawyers reported to have been removed from shows include Grant & Eisenhofer’s Barbara Hart, who was escorted out of MSG by security guards prior to a Brandi Carlile concert, and Davis, Saperstein & Solomon’s Kelly Conlon, who was asked to leave an event at Radio City Music Hall.

MSG Company faces a lawsuit from “dozens of attorneys and their firms” over the approach, but has defended its use of face-scanning tech, which it has deployed since at least 2018, “to provide a safe and secure environment”.

The SLA filed administrative charges against MSG in March over the policy, saying it violates state liquor laws. However, the New York Post reports MSG has filed a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court, seeking phone records for part-time SLA investigator Charles Stravalle.

“The SLA is misusing its enforcement powers at the behest of politically influential lawyers”

It claims that he carried out the SLA investigation “at the behest” of the banned lawyers, thus resulting in the “bogus administrative charges”.

MSG’s suit alleges the lawyers “have sought to weaponise the SLA to harass MSG and threaten the loss of MSG’s liquor licences,” adding, “the collusion between the SLA and these attorneys is without question”.

“The SLA is misusing its enforcement powers at the behest of politically influential lawyers, who sued MSG (some repeatedly) and have thus been excluded from MSG’s events while that litigation is pending,” it adds.

In a statement, MSG co-counsel Jim Walden of Walden Macht & Haran adds: “We believe the incriminating evidence revealed by the communications between the SLA and the plaintiff’s attorneys is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what our motion and subsequent subpoenas will uncover. We look forward to exposing the SLA’s abuses and bringing the facts to light.”

An SLA spokesperson tells the Post they are unable to comment on pending litigation, but adds: “Characterising standard investigative procedures as collusion demonstrates either a fundamental misunderstanding of law enforcement or a disregard of the facts.”

 


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MSG Entertainment spin-off approved by board

Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment’s board of directors has approved the spin-off of its live entertainment and MSG Networks divisions, which is expected to be complete on 20 April.

The move will see the current parent company rebranded Sphere Entertainment Co. and will be comprised of the Sphere, MSG Networks and Tao Group Hospitality businesses.

The newly formed live entertainment company will take on the name Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp and will include New York City’s 20,000-cap Madison Square Garden, The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre, along with the firm’s entertainment and sports bookings business and long-term arena licence agreements with the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

“Each [company] will be well positioned to generate long-term value for our shareholders”

“With today’s announcement, we are one step closer toward our goal of creating two distinct companies, each well positioned to generate long-term value for our shareholders,” says MSGE executive chairman and CEO James Dolan.

Shareholders of record as of 14 April will receive a distribution of one Class A or Class B share of the new company for every share of common stock held, representing 67% of the new company’s outstanding shares. Sphere Entertainment will own the remainder.

The company’s board of directors also authorised a $250 million share repurchase program for the new live entertainment company’s Class A common stock following the completion of the spin-off.

The company expects the common stock to trade in two markets on the New York Stock Exchange: in the “regular way” market under the company’s current name, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., and under the current ticker symbol, MSGE, and in the “ex-distribution” market under the new name, Sphere Entertainment Co., and under the symbol SPHR WI.

 


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MSG: MP’s move has ‘no impact’ on Sphere plans

Madison Square Garden has insisted that levelling up secretary Michael Gove’s move to temporarily halt its MSG Sphere London project has “no impact” on its plans.

Gove has issued an Article 31 holding directive, which temporarily blocks the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and the mayor of London from signing off proposals for the venue. The holding directive also gives Gove the chance to call in the plans under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The move comes after opposition from local residents and AEG Europe, which has repeatedly voiced concerns over the MSG Sphere London’s proximity to The O2. AEG claims the LLDC’s decision-making process has been “seriously flawed”, adding that that the proposed LED-covered Sphere will add congestion to the local public transport infrastructure and blot London’s skyline.

However, an MSG Sphere London spokesperson tells Architects Journal that MSG is pleased with the progress of its planning application.

“We always expected the government to take the opportunity to review our application… their formal notice has absolutely no impact on our plans in any way”

“We always expected the government to take the opportunity to review our application for MSG Sphere London and their formal notice has absolutely no impact on our plans in any way,” says the spokesperson. “MSG Sphere will bring unique entertainment experiences to London and deliver many cultural and economic benefits, including creating thousands of jobs and generating billions of pounds for the local, London and UK economy.”

MSG Sphere London would become MSG’s first property outside of the US. Last March, the LLDC approved plans for the 21,000-capacity, 90m-tall venue in Stratford, east London, four miles from The O2 (20,000-cap) in North Greenwich.

Rock band U2 will launch the MSG Sphere at The Venetian in Las Vegas this autumn with the Live Nation-presented U2:UV Achtung Baby Live At The Sphere residency.

Earlier this month, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that MSG Sphere president Lucas Watson is no longer with the company.

“As MSG Entertainment gets closer to the opening of MSG Sphere in Las Vegas, we will be simplifying and streamlining our commercial structure for the venue, while leveraging existing expertise across the MSG family of companies,” said an MSG statement. “With these changes, Lucas Watson has decided to exit the organisation, and we wish him well in his future endeavours.”

 


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