Garden party for Bair

Net has already lost Yankees cable rights

NEW YORK — The Madison Square Garden Networks has hired veteran sports executive Michael Bair as president.

Bair has resigned as senior VP of marketing and business operations for the New York Rangers pro hockey team, a sibling of MSG.

The network has already lost the cable rights to the New York Yankees, as the team ankled MSG to form its own cable channel, the YES network, three years ago. YES also lured away the New Jersey Nets pro basketball team, which had an exclusive deal with MSG sister Fox Sports New York. (The Fox Sports web now falls under Bair’s purview.)

MSG will lose the games of the New York Mets after the 2005 Major League Baseball season for the same reason: The Mets are setting up their own cable net.

Bair, who reports officially Feb. 1, succeeds Mike McCarthy, who will stay with MSG as a consultant.

Bair will draw on his career at Cablevision, where he rose to exec VP of sports for Rainbow Media. In that post, he ran eight regional sports nets. Bair helped to engineer the deal between Fox Sports and Cablevision.