Five billion dollars is a lot of money.
Enough money to have James Dolan keeping the door open to something he doesn’t want to do — sell the New York Knicks. While Forbes estimated the Knicks’ value at $3.6 billion, there have been rumors of some possible interest at more than $5 billion.
That is a ray of hope for a beleaguered Knicks fan base has called for James Dolan
‘s head on a pike to sell the team for years now. That sale has never seemed likely. It still doesn’t, although some parties have at least put out “feelers.” Because of the massive amount of money involved, Dolan told Ian O’Connor of ESPN (in a must-read piece) a sale can’t be ruled out entirely.
“No one has come through with a bona fide offer. You hear numbers all the time. … I think people have sent feelers out, but never any that were pursued. Yeah, [the feelers are] around that number [$5 billion], but those things, it’s like a stock price. It’s only important if you’re going to buy or sell.”
The Knicks (and NHL’s Rangers, and MSG Network) are owned by the Madison Square Garden Company, which is a publicly traded company that Dolan heads. (It was formed in 2010 when Cablevision spun off the Knicks, Rangers, and MSG Network.) While the company is publicly traded, the majority of stock rests in the hands of Dolan and his family (his father and five siblings). And if they don’t want to sell…
“I love the Knicks and Rangers, right, but you still have a responsibility to your shareholders. They’re not there because they’re fans. You don’t invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a stock because you’re a fan. You do it because you think that the business is going to increase in value, that the stock price is going to go up….
“I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks. Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote. … As a majority owner, I don’t want to sell, either. As the head of the public company, you can’t say you can’t sell, because then you’re telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money. And they won’t invest with you if you do that.”
All of which is to say, don’t bet on a sale anytime soon unless there is a shareholder revolt. And that revolt would need someone (or someones) inside the palace to help out, or it goes nowhere. If the Dolans don’t want to sell, nothing gets sold.
For now, the status quo holds.
In recent years, Dolan has stayed away from basketball decisions more and more. He let Phil Jackson do things his way until it was obvious that was a mistake. Now the current power structure — Steve Mills, Scott Perry, David Fizdale — has been given a lot of room to build a new culture and identity. That takes time, it’s far too early to judge that process. Let’s just hope Dolan continues to give the professionals room and time to do their job.
Since, apparently, he’s not going to be selling anytime soon.