James Dolan could earn as much as $52 million as part of a new compensation package he recently signed as CEO of Madison Square Garden. The agreement, which runs through the end of 2023, includes a general compensation package that represents a 14% increase over his previous contract, as well as a one-time award of $40 million in performance-based stock options that require the MSG executive chairman to hit certain targets for the company.
That type of eight-digit package could make Dolan one of the top paid CEOs in the U.S.A., according to Bloomberg, which estimates his total compensation package “would make Dolan one of the 30 best-paid executives at a U.S. public company.”
The package comes as Dolan continues to develop his $1 billion MSG Sphere venue projects in Las Vegas and London, potentially representing a significant shift in the way fans experience live entertainment.
“This contract, which includes a substantial number of options priced at a meaningful premium, represents significant confidence in the future of MSG,” a statement from MSG’s Kimberly Kerns provided to Billboard reads. “Under Jim’s leadership, MSG has generated significant value for shareholders, nearly doubling MSG’s stock price, equating to an increase of $3.5 billion in market cap, since MSG was spun from MSG Networks in 2015. Now Jim is charting the company’s path for future growth, driven by the creation of state-of-the-art live entertainment venues.”
As part of the agreement outlined in a SEC 8-K filed Wednesday, Dolan will continue to receive a base salary of $1 million annually and will continue to be eligible to participate in annual target bonus plan for an additional $2 million. He’ll also get $9 million in cash and equity in MSG, an increase from his previous contract that netted him $7.5 million in long-term incentive awards.
For his time as CEO of MSG, which officially began in November 2017 following the resignation of former CEO David O’Connor, Dolan will also receive $875,000 worth or restricted stock and performance restricted stock units, both of which fully vest on Aug. 30, 2020.
On top of the $12.8 million he’s taking home, he’s also eligible for $40 million in stock options, including $10 million in restricted shares that vest only when performance goals are met. The remaining options vest over four year period tied to strike prices for the stock between $309 to $386. As of 1:30 p.m. Eastern, the stock was down 4.4 percent at $295.85 per share.
The compensation package follows an announcement by the company that plans to separate its sports and entertainment units during the first half of 2019 by way of a tax-free spin-of to all MSG shareholders, creating two publicly traded businesses.
If the proposed transaction goes through, the music side would include venues such as NYC’s Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre and the Hulu Theater at MSG; the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.; the Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston. It would include MSG’s bookings business; productions featuring the Rockettes; majority interests in TAO Group and Boston Calling Events; and strategic joint ventures, Azoff-MSG Entertainment and Tribeca Enterprises. The sports unit would include the Knicks (NBA), the Rangers (NHL) and the Liberty (WNBA), along with the esports franchise Knicks Gaming and a majority interest in Logic Gaming.