Sports-industry insiders believe buyout firm Silver Lake Partners is working on a master plan with James Dolan that, one day, could help him buy Madison Square Garden — and maybe even the Knicks or Rangers.
Silver Lake disclosed a 6.3 percent stake in Madison Square Garden Co. in a 13D filing last month, indicating an activist position. The Silicon Valley-based firm said it would like to help MSG create long-term value.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal broke the news that Silver Lake had invested $100 million for an undisclosed stake in sports consultancy Oak View Group.
Silver Lake bought a minority stake and learned about the opportunity from Dolan, a source said.
Dolan backs Oak View, which is headed by his friend Irving Azoff, the longtime manager of acts like the Eagles and Bon Jovi, sources said. Silver Lake’s investing in Oak View is a likely indicator that it’s in a friendly process with Dolan, sports-industry sources said. “The Oak View news indicates Silver Lake has been speaking to Dolan,” one source said.
Oak View is advising on the building of a new Islanders arena in Belmont Park as well as on a bidding group trying to win an NHL expansion franchise in Seattle.
Azoff’s group as recently as December was seeking co-investors to help it buy stadium manager SMG Holdings that was up for sale in an auction, a source said. Canadian buyout firm Onex Corp. ended up acquiring SMG.
MSG lately has fallen under increasing pressure from hedge funds to split or sell its assets.
“We do not comment on rumor or speculation,” an MSG spokesman said.