Madison Square Garden Entertainment's plan to launch a touring arena version of its Radio City Christmas Spectacular (billboard.biz, April 30) is the latest move in an increasingly aggressive posture that will see the company launch other tours in the next few years.

The Spectacular tour marks the most ambitious national project for MSGE, a division of Cablevision, which owns and operates New York's Madison Square Garden, the WaMu Theatre at MSG, the Beacon Theatre and Radio City Music Hall—and recently completed a transaction to acquire the Chicago Theatre.

"We're big believers in the big spectacle. We like this business, we think there is a lot of opportunity for us to work in this space," MSGE president Jay Marciano says. "We are in pretty advanced stages of predevelopment on at least two productions now that are on this [Spectacular] scale."

If the Spectacular tour reaches projections north of $30 million, it is likely MSGE will remain bullish in this market. In fact, a touring version of the MSGE/Cirque du Soleil production "Wintuk," which debuted in 2007 at the WaMu Theatre at MSG, will mount a national tour in 2010.

"We believe what our friends at Cirque du Soleil have done for the circus genre can be applied to other presentations," Marciano says. "All venues are always on the lookout for new content."

With more than $25 million in startup costs, not including marketing and promotion, the Spectacular tour certainly shows MSGE is jumping in with both feet. "We're in it for the long haul," Marciano says. "And it's not like we're working with a show that's untested. We're working with one of the biggest live entertainment draws in the world—we're just re-creating it for the arena space."

Click here for all the numbers and details on the Christmas Spectacular arena tour, and what sets it apart from prior outings.

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