By Kent Larsen
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- Dave Checketts, the LDS Church member who has
headed the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and Madison Square
Garden for six years, was fired yesterday by the corporate owner of
the Garden, Cablevision, according to the New York Daily News. News
of his firing spread quickly yesterday, shocking members of the
sports teams he ran but pleasing some fans, who were not satisfied
with the Knicks and Rangers failures in the playoffs in recent years.
According to the Daily News' report, Checketts will be succeeded
temporarily by his boss, Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan, with whom he
reportedly had a strained relationship. The failure of the Knicks to
win a championship and the Rangers to make the playoffs this year led
to the firing, according to the reports.
In spite of the firing, Checketts had good success at the Garden. He
came to New York in 1991 from the Utah Jazz, taking a front-office
job with the Knicks, a team that was then in turmoil. Surviving three
changes of ownership at the Garden, he rose through the ranks to take
over the corporation, which owns not only the two sports teams, but
also Madison Square Garden, the MSG cable network, Radio City Music
Hall, several theaters, and a few other businesses.
During his tenure, financial revenues for the company increased
ninefold, and Checketts made Madison Square Garden into a "virtually
unmatched sports and entertainment colossus," says the Daily News. He
brought back boxing to Madison Square Garden, saw the Rangers win the
NHL's Stanley Cup, and saw the two sports franchises become the most
valuable in their sports. A Forbes magazine study last December
valued the Knicks at $395 million, atop the NBA, and the Rangers at
$263 million, ahead of all other NHL teams.
But recently, Checketts' luck has turned against him. The New York
Yankees decided to launch its own regional cable network with the
NBA's New Jersey Nets, which will cost Cablevision millions in lost
advertising revenue from broadcasting Yankees games. In addition, the
Rangers landed outside of the playoffs for the fourth straight year,
and the Knicks failed to advance this year beyond the NBA playoff's
Knick's star Allan Houston expressed surprise at the firing, "It's
just a shock," he told the TNT cable channel last night. "I hope
everything works out well for him. I think he did a good job." Some
fans said that because the teams hadn't met expectations, it was time
for a change. "They should have gotten rid of [Checketts] a long time
ago," said Alex Windrem, 26, a fan from Bridgewater, N.J.
Checketts Checking Out Of MSG
New York Daily News 15May01 S2
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