The Madison Square Garden Company has announced that former Cablevision executive Tad Smith will succeed Hank Ratner as president/CEO of MSG. Ratner is now vice chairman and joins the company’s board of directors.
Smith, who spent five years with Cablevision (MSG's former parent company), most recently serving as president of Local Media, will now be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Madison Square Garden Company, including the overall strategy and day-to-day operations of MSG Sports, MSG Media and MSG Entertainment, as well as the company’s administrative areas.
In his new role, Ratner will “continue to assist in setting corporate direction, and work closely with MSG’s new president and CEO on the overall advancement of the company,” according to a statement released by MSG.
During his tenure at MSG, Ratner oversaw the company’s spin-off from Cablevision four years ago, and the tripling of MSG’s adjusted operating cash flow since its debut as a standalone company. MSG’s national footprint expanded significantly under Ratner’s watch, bringing in such venues as the Beacon Theatre in New York, the Chicago Theatre, the Wang Theatre in Boston and, most recently, the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., under MSG management.
Ratner began his career with Cablevision in 1987 and was named vice chairman of Cablevision in 2002, and then a year later, vice chairman of MSG. In 2010, following MSG’s spin-off from Cablevision, he was named the company’s president/CEO.
James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company, praised Ratner’s “leadership and business acumen” in a statement. “We are extremely grateful for the integral role Hank has played in driving the company’s significant growth, including spearheading the historic transformation of the Garden, and look forward to his continued contributions to the company,” he said, referring to the recent $1 billion renovation completed last fall.
Ratner added, “Being able to lead Madison Square Garden during such a pivotal and historic period has been a dream come true for me,” and expressed his confidence that the company is well-positioned for the future.” Ratner said he was “looking forward to continuing my relationship with the company in my new role.”
Regarding Smith, Dolan said, “We are confident that he is the ideal executive to lead MSG into a new chapter of the company’s history and to seize the opportunities that lay ahead." Smith said the Garden would, “pursue strategic growth initiatives that will allow us to expand our leadership position, and build on our tremendous legacy.”
Before joining Cablevision in 2009, Smith worked for Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a worldwide provider of business information, where he served as CEO of the company’s U.S. division, Reed Business Information (RBI). At RBI, Smith oversaw such brands as Variety and Publishers Weekly, Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable. Prior to that, Smith served as senior VP of e-commerce for Starwood Resorts and Hotels Worldwide, and before that was with BMG Entertainment, where he managed the strategy, acquisition and restructuring for the company’s North American business units, including Arista Records, RCA Records, BMG Direct Record Clubs and BMG Music Publishing, among others.
MSG Sports owns and operates the New York Knicks (NBA), the New York Rangers (NHL), the New York Liberty (WNBA), and the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL). MSG Media’s television networks include the MSG Network and MSG+, collectively referred to as MSG Networks; and Fuse. MSG Entertainment creates, produces and/or presents such productions as the Radio City Christmas Spectacular along with concerts, family shows and special events in the company’s venue portfolio, which includes: Madison Square Garden, the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Forum, the Chicago Theatre, and the Wang Theatre.
MSG stock was up slightly in early trading Monday.