Saturday, October 23, 2021

Knicks, Rangers parent MSG Sports posts 90% revenue drop due to COVID

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The pandemic continues to take a toll on the New York Knicks and Rangers.

On a Wednesday earnings call, Madison Square Garden Sports, the publicly listed parent company that controls the teams, said revenue fell 90 percent for the three months ending Dec. 31 to $29 million. As a result it lost $38 million compared to breaking even a year earlier.

Fortunately, MSGS has $290 million in cash and borrowing capacity, much of it from a November debt refinancing, which will help it weather the storm, the company said.

On the call MSGS execs said they would like to open Knicks and Rangers games to a reduced number of fans this season “in a phased way,” and that they are in talks with NY state to try to make it happen.

MSGS President and CEO Andrew Lustgarten pointed to the strength of the air filtration system in the midtown Manhattan area, which was renovated in 2013.

Since Feb. 20, as fears of the pandemic began to take hold, MSGS shares have fallen from $223 to $167 mid-day Wednesday, a 25 percent drop.

The company, when adding equity and debt is worth $5.25 billion. The Knicks, the company’s most valuable asset, was worth $4.6 billion alone based on Forbes’ February 2020 valuation.

Lustgarten suggested on the call that sports’ team value have been holding up despite the financial impact of the pandemic. He mentioned Utah Jazz, a small market team that sold in October for a robust $1.66 billion.

He also applauded the NBA’s decision last week to open up the sale of minority stakes in teams to private equity firms, saying it will help drive team valuations.

As The Post exclusively reported this week, the Golden State Warriors are selling a 5 percent stake in the team at a $5 billion valuation, much higher than its $4.3 billion Forbes 2020 valuation.

If the Warriors succeed, that could lift the value of the Knicks and the MSGS shares.

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