Azoff Music Management has reached a $125m (£95.7m/€109.2m) deal to buy out Madison Square Garden Company’s (MSG) 50 per cent stake in their joint venture, Azoff MSG Entertainment.
The deal is set to see the firm renamed as the Azoff Company as MSG continues to explore its future business strategy. The Azoff Company and MSG have simultaneously entered into multi-year consultancy agreements, under which the firm led by former CEO of Ticketmaster and executive chairman of Live Nation, Irving Azoff, will continue to advise MSG, including on the Forum arena in Los Angeles and MSG Sphere initiative, which includes announced plans to build state-of-the-art venues in Las Vegas and London.
The Azoff MSG Entertainment joint venture was established in 2013. In addition to leading the joint venture, Azoff and his team have played an important role in the success of MSG’s venues, most notably the Forum (pictured), which they helped MSG reinvent in 2014, creating an arena-sized venue dedicated to music and entertainment.
“I am extremely proud that my partner, Jim Dolan, and I built an innovative company which always put the artists’ and songwriters’ interests first,” said Azoff, chairman and chief executive of the Azoff Company. “The Azoff Company will build on this foundation of positive disruption and artist advocacy: we will continue to challenge antiquated parts of the entertainment business on behalf of artists and fans.”
In February, MSG announced its plans for MSG Sphere, state-of-the-art venues that are being built to pioneer the next generation of immersive experiences. The first MSG Sphere venue in Las Vegas, MSG Sphere at The Venetian, is expected to open in 2021, followed by a second MSG Sphere venue approximately one year later in London.
Completion of the transaction remains subject to certain closing conditions, including financing. In June, MSG revealed plans to spin off its sports assets and create a dedicated arm for its music and entertainment-focused venues.
MSG’s board of directors authorised the company’s management to explore a venture that would create a separately-traded public company comprised of its sports businesses, including NBA basketball team the New York Knicks and NHL ice hockey franchise New York Rangers.
The live entertainment company, MSG Sphere, is expected to include MSG’s portfolio of venues such as New York’s Madison Square Garden. It would also encompass MSG Bookings, which effectively fills MSG’s venues with entertainment events.
Commenting on the Azoff MSG Entertainment announcement, Dolan, executive chairman and chief executive of MSG, said: “Irving has been a valued business partner and we know that he will continue to enjoy incredible success in his company and in his continued role with us.
“This evolution of our relationship comes at a time when we are working to align all areas of our business to support our goal — the creation of next-generation venues that will transform the live experience. We will continue to rely on Irving’s relationships and expertise to help bring that vision to reality.”