Ratner Out, Smith In at MSG

Cablevision Exec to Take Reins at ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’

Madison Square Garden Co. CEO Hank Ratner is stepping down from that role and will be  replaced by Cablevision Systems Local Media Group president Tad Smith, the company said Friday. Ratner will continue at The World’s Most Famous Arena as vice chairman and a member of its board of directors.

Ratner added the CEO title at MSG, which includes the entertainment venues Madison Square Garden Arena, Radio City Music Hall, The Beacon Theater, the Chicago Theater and The Forum in Los Angeles, regional sports networks MSG and MSG-Plus and professional sports teams the New York Knicks, The New York Rangers and the New York Liberty, in 2010 after the company was spin off from Cablevision Systems.  He had been vice chairman of MSG since 2003. Ratner also serves as vice chairman of Cablevision and is a 26-year veteran of the company, starting with its former Rainbow Media programming arm in 1988. Ratner was instrumental in building Rainbow, which later became AMC Networks and was spun off as a separate publicly traded company in 2011.  Moving over to MSG in 2003, Ratner helped prep that division for its ultimate spin-off in 2010 and helped steer it through a major arena renovation.

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.

"Being able to lead Madison Square Garden during such a pivotal and historic period has been a dream come true for me,” Ratner said in a statement. “I am extremely proud of our record of success, which has not only marked a period of tremendous growth, but also ensured the company is well positioned for the future. I am honored to have played such a meaningful role in MSG's evolution, and look forward to continuing my relationship with the company in my new role."

Bloomberg first reported this morning that Ratner would step down.

“Madison Square Garden is unlike any other company in the world, with an unparalleled group of legendary, beloved brands and assets that set the standard for sports, media and entertainment,” Smith said in a statement. “I look forward to working with MSG’s executive staff and employees across the company to ensure we continue to deliver excellence across our operations, and pursue strategic growth initiatives that will allow us to expand our leadership position, and build on our tremendous legacy.”

Smith will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of The Madison Square Garden Co., 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, including Finance, Legal, Human Resources, Communications and Business Operations.

“Hank has achieved enormous success over his long-career with the company, particularly over the last decade, when his leadership and business acumen has allowed MSG to enhance its position as one of the world’s leading sports, media and entertainment companies,” said MSG executive chairman James Dolan 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.”

Smith joined Cablevision as president of its Local Media Group in 2009 after serving as CEO of Reed Elsevier’s Reed Business Information, former parent of Multichannel News. At Cablevision, Smith was in charge of digital and linear television advertising sales division; News 12 Networks, and Newsday Media Group, which includes Long Island., N.Y., daily newspaper Newsday, and amNewYork, a free daily newspaper which serves New York City.

“We are pleased to welcome Tad to MSG as its new president and chief executive officer," Dolan continued. "Over the last five years, Tad’s unique ability to grow organizations and identify key talent has helped to guide Cablevision during a period of unprecedented change. 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.”