Cablevision Systems Corp.’s Madison Square Garden unit has changed its strategy in the battle over a proposed New York City football stadium/convention center. MSG Friday offered $600 million to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the West Side rail yard where the stadium would sit, according to the Associated Press.
The offer is twice the $300 million football’s New York Jets were asked to pay.
The surprise offer came after months of opposition from Cablevision. The company spent millions fighting the plan, fearing that a new stadium in Manhattan would sap event revenue from the Madison Square Garden arena, home to the Cablevision-owned New York Knicks basketball team and New York Rangers hockey franchise, and a facility which plays host to concerts and other events.
Cablevision proposed buildings including a hotel and housing on the site, rather than the Jets stadium, which has also been a centerpiece of the city's bid to host the 2012 Olympics, the AP said.
According to The New York Times, mayor Michael Bloomberg Saturday dismissed the effort, calling it “a joke” and “a P.R. stunt.”
In response, Cablevision issued a written statement standing behind its offer. “Madison Square Garden is ready, willing and able to make a firm and binding commitment,” the company said.
Cablevision's New York regional sports networks, Madison Square Garden Network and FSN New York, have also been struggling of late. MSGN lost rights to baseball’s New York Yankees in 2002, and FSN NY will lose the New York Mets at the end of the 2005 season.