New York Knicks fans are asking themselves whether Madison Square Garden (MSG - Get Report) CEO James Dolan intends to sell the team after the company said it planned to split its entertainment and sports businesses.
The plan in Q1 2020 would separate the National Basketball Association's New York Knicks and National Hockey League's New York Rangers franchises from the division that owns the world-famous arena where they play, Madison Square Garden.
"The spinoff would create two distinct companies for MSG shareholders, each with a defined business focus and clear investment characteristics," Dolan said in a statement.
The company also stated that the reason it has chosen to spin off its entire sports asset, as opposed to its previous plan to retain a one-third equity in the separate business, is due to its decision to push back the opening of its MSG Sphere in London.
"As a result of the evolving timeline in London, the Company now believes the standalone entertainment company would have sufficient financial flexibility to pursue its venue expansion plans without the need for the retained equity interest in the sports company," the company's statement said.
Despite the move to separate the businesses, Knicks fans should not expect Dolan to sell the team in the foreseeable future, according to SI's John WallStreet.
"The Knicks are his ticket to everything; he gets covered in the papers because he owns the Knicks," JWS told TheStreet. "I don't think he ever gives up majority control of the franchise."
Dolan in 1995 was named CEO of Cablevision Systems by his father, Charles Dolan. In 1999, after the company purchased the 50% stake in MSG that it didn't already own, James Dolan became the head of one of the NBA's most valuable franchises.
Since the turn of the century, the Knicks have made the playoffs six times, winning one playoff series. They've begun the 2019-2020 season with the worst record in the NBA at 1-7.
While the Knicks are still the league's most valuable franchise -- Forbes values the franchise at $4 billion with annual revenue of $443 million -- James Dolan has taken the brunt of the criticism from Knicks fans for the fortunes of one of the league's most prominent teams.