Madison Square Garden Mulling Spin-Off of MSG Sphere, TAO Group Unit

Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. (NYSE:MSGE) said today its board of directors granted the company permission to evaluate a spin-off of its live entertainment business and the news has Las Vegas implications.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment
Madison Square Garden Entertainment
Workers at the MSG Sphere site in Las Vegas. Madison Square Garden Entertainment is considering spinning off the unit that includes that venue. (Image: Jeff Scheid/Nevada Independent)

The company, which owns the eponymous arena in New York City as well The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre, among other interests, could separate those businesses with the a new MSG Entertainment retaining the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas and TAO Group Hospitality as well as a one-third stake in the spun off entity and the bulk of the company’s cash on hand.

There can be no assurance that the proposed transaction will be completed in the manner described above, or at all. The Company has not set a timetable for completion of this process. Completion of the transaction would be subject to various conditions, including certain league approvals, receipt of a tax opinion from counsel and final MSG Entertainment Board approval,” according to a statement issued by MSG Entertainment.

News of the proposed transaction sent shares of Madison Square Garden Entertainment higher by almost 7% in Thursday’s after-hours session.

MSG Move Is Vegas-Related

Should MSG proceed with the spin-off, the new version of the company would have a heavy Las Vegas footprint.

“The first MSG Sphere is currently under construction in Las Vegas and expected to open in the second half of calendar 2023,” notes the company.

That venue’s first event is slated to be a U2 concert and it already inked an agreement with Formula One in advance of the circuit’s upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix in November 2023. The proposed corporate action is also meaningful to TAO Group.

That entity is “a global entertainment dining and nightlife provider, with over 70 branded locations within 60 venues in more than 20 markets across 5 continent,” according to the press release.

TAO’s Sin City venues include Asian and Italian restaurants as well as namesake dayclubs and nightclubs, Hakkasan, Marquee Nightclub, OMNIA Nightclub and the famed Wet Republic Ultra Pool. The bulk of those venues are located in Strip integrated resorts.

If Spinoff Happens, Here’s What Remains

In addition to Madison Square Garden, The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre, MSG’s live entertainment business would retain some assets that could be compelling to investors.

Those include coveted licensing accords with the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, both of which play their home games exclusively at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks and Rangers are two of the most valuable franchises in the NBA and NHL, respectively, and are controlled by Madison Square Garden Sports Corp. (NYSE:MSGS).

Assuming the spin-off materializes, the new division will also include MSG Networks, “which owns two regional sports and entertainment networks, MSG Network and MSG+, as well as a companion streaming app, MSG GO, and features exclusive live local games of 5 NBA and NHL sports franchises,” according to the company.

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