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Undervalued Sports and Entertainment Mecca a Slam-Dunk Investment


With lucrative and coveted broadcast deals either signed or in the pipeline, the Madison Square Garden Co. is positioned to perform like a champ.

It's a common dream to own a profes-sional sports team, but no teams are publicly traded. To get a piece of the action, investors must buy shares in the corporate entities that own the teams.

There's no better buy now in the sports world than Madison Square Garden Company (NSDQ:MSG), which owns and operates the icon-ic Madison Square Garden arena, the New York Knicks, the New York Rang-ers, the Connecticut Whale, the New York Liberty, the Radio City Christmas production, the Chicago Theater, the Beacon Theatre, and more.

The company operates via three seg-ments-MSG Sports, MSG Enter-tainment, and MSG Media-that are strategically aligned and built on a foundation of brand-name venues and compelling spectacles.

MSG Sports features the presenta-tion of a wide variety of live sporting events including hockey, profession-al and college basketball, profession-al boxing, track and field, and tennis. MSG Entertainment presents or hosts live entertainment events such as con-certs and family shows. MSG Media consists of regional sports networks and the Fuse Networks, a national television network dedicated to music.

The company is most commonly as-sociated with the value of its epony-mous arena, which is undergoing an $850 million renovation that will en-hance its earnings power. Opened in 1968 and located in midtown Man-hattan, the arena is the longest ac-tive major sporting facility in the New York metropolitan area and currently hosts approximately 320 events a year.

This storied landmark is only one aspect of the company's appeal as a stock market investment. The company's cable networks, lucrative broadcast rights and fully integrated business model make it a great stock to buy for the long haul.

However, the stock is being unduly punished by investors and trades at a bargain to its premium potential.

In September, the NHL canceled its entire preseason game schedule, because of the absence of a collective bargaining agreement between the team owners and the players' associa-tion. This marks the fourth time in 20 years that the NHL has succumbed to a work stoppage. The regular season is scheduled to begin in mid-October, but negotiations remain far apart.

The National Hockey League re-mains mired in acrimony, generat-ing negative publicity that tarnishes anything associated with pro hockey. Hockey fans-and investors-remem-ber that the entire 2004-05 season wasn't played because of a costly lock-out. The first casualty of the high-ly public squabbling this autumn has been Madison Square Garden's stock.
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