Cablevision Makes Play for Yankees

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

Charles Dolan just doesn't quit: The chairman and CEO
of Cablevision Systems Corp. has again approached New York Yankees owner George
Steinbrenner about purchasing the famed Major League Baseball team.

Sources close to the situation said Dolan is offering more
than $500 million for ownership of the team, which he initially proposed this past spring.

Published reports suggested that Steinbrenner would have
some say in -- or even run -- the day-to-day operations of not only the Yankees, but also
the Cablevision-owned New York Knicks National Basketball Association and New York Rangers
National Hockey League teams.

Representatives from the Yankees would not comment on the
matter.

In a prepared statement, Cablevision executives would only
say that the company would not comment on rumors or speculation. Cablevision did say that
it has not had, nor does it expect to have, any discussions "to relinquish either the
control or management responsibilities of Madison Square Garden and its teams."

The Yankees would provide a major feather in the sports cap
of Dolan and Cablevision, giving him ownership rights to three of the seven New York-area
professional-sports teams.

It would also allow Cablevision to lock up Yankees
television rights for its Madison Square Garden Network. Those rights expire in two years,
and industry observers believe that ESPN will make a play for them in an effort to
establish a New York-based regional-sports network. MSGN paid $486 million for its 12-year
deal with the Yankees.

Analysts believe that a deal is in the works.

"It's probably in the on-deck circle," SG
Cowen Securities Corp. cable analyst Gary Farber said. "I don't doubt it."
Programming costs are a huge issue in the industry now, he noted. MSGN essentially paid
the Yankees to "lease" the product: "Why not own it instead?"

Cablevision could also bring in its sports partner,
Fox/Liberty Networks, as a potential co-owner, Farber said. NBC, which owns 25 percent of
Cablevision's Rainbow Programming Holdings Inc., and Fox/Liberty Networks, which owns
50 percent of Rainbow's sports networks, could join in.

Related