Knicks Owner Invokes Sale Idea, Renewing Long-Running Saga

(Bloomberg) -- Madison Square Garden Co. Chief Executive Officer James Dolan renewed speculation that the New York Knicks could someday be sold, sending long-suffering fans -- and investors -- down a familiar road.

Dolan said in an interview with ESPN that he’s gotten “feelers” from suitors for upwards of $5 billion. That sent the company’s stock on its biggest rally in almost six months and brought back one of the biggest questions in New York sports: Will the Dolan family ever sell the seven-decade-old basketball squad?

With the team mired in its sixth-straight losing season, some fans have rested their hopes on a change of ownership.

Knicks Owner Invokes Sale Idea, Renewing Long-Running Saga

“I could never say that I wouldn’t consider selling the Knicks,” Dolan, 63, said in an interview with ESPN. “Now, my family is not in that position, and they are the majority shareholders. They hold the majority of the vote.”

Preliminary expressions of interest in buying teams are common in professional sports. Leagues and commissioners routinely court prospective owners, creating what’s tantamount to a runway of would-be buyers should any owner decide to explore a sale.

The Dolan family has controlled the Knicks since 1999, and despite the team’s struggles over the years, it remains one of their most prized assets. The company also owns hockey’s New York Rangers and the namesake midtown Manhattan arena in which both teams play.

Dolan made clear that he himself didn’t want to sell, echoing past remarks. When a plan to spin off the Knicks and Rangers triggered an earlier wave of speculation in June, he tamped down the idea.

He also put out a separate statement on Monday saying, “There are no plans to sell the Knicks.”

But Dolan acknowledged in the ESPN interview that it was his duty to consider the idea.

“As the head of the public company, you can’t say you can’t sell,” he said, “because then you’re telling your shareholders that your own personal feelings about your assets are more important than their money.”

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