Forget the New York Yankees and New York Mets, who were separately locked into tight pennant races. For the last few weeks, it’s sex that has ruled the New York sports pages — and the front pages of the tabloids.
The story: a sensational sexual-harassment trial that has turned into a PR catastrophe for the chairman of Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers — James Dolan, whose father, Charles, is chairman of the parent company Cablevision.
James Dolan was in court Sept. 25 to defend his firing of Anucha Browne Sanders, former senior VP of marketing for the New York Knicks, who’s the plaintiff in a $10 million civil suit against the Knicks, the Garden and the team’s coach and president of basketball operations, Isiah Thomas. She claims she was fired in retaliation for claiming sexual harassment and abusive treatment.
The headlines, blaring with he-said/she-said charges, are particularly awkward in light of the Dolans’ $10.6 billion proposal to take Cablevision private.
Cablevision has scheduled a shareholders’ vote on the Dolans’ offer for Oct. 24. The board has already approved the transaction, but some Wall Street analysts say the offer is too low, considering that Cablevision serves 3 million cable subs in the greater New York area, harvesting sales of $6 billion.
Among Cablevision’s other assets are three cable nets — AMC, WEand IFC — plus two regional sports nets, MSG Channel and Fox Sports New York. Radio City Music Hall is also a part of the Cablevision empire, as well as the Knicks and the New York Rangers.
So far the negative headlines have had no noticeable effect on Cablevision’s stock, one way or the other. But if Anucha Sanders wins the suit, analysts say there could be a backlash on Wall Street.