VIP compensation for Madison Square Garden execs…

August 12, 2011

While many people are still feeling the effects of the recession, that’s not the case for The Madison Square Garden Company’s (MSG) top executives. The Garden itself is getting a multi-million-dollar makeover with round-the-clock renovations intended to make it “the world’s most state-of-the-art arena.” Meanwhile, a couple of its executives are getting an enviable combination of cash, equity, and perks while also working for another company.

The information comes from Madison Square Garden’s second amended 10-K , which the company filed on August 8 in response to the SEC’s request for an assurance that it had maintained effective internal controls and that it provide more information about executive compensation decisions.

The filing shows that MSG’s President and Chief Officer, Hank Ratner, got a total compensation package worth more than $11.54 million in 2010, comprised of more than $1 million in base salary (now $1.2 million), $7.55 million in stock awards, $2.77 million as a bonus, and nearly $54,000 for his personal use of a car and driver and the unreimbursed, incremental costs for flying on a company-provided helicopter.

That’s not too shabby, but it’s only one of Ratner’s jobs. He’s also the Vice Chairman of Cablevision Systems Corporation (CVC), which spun off Madison Square Garden as a standalone company in February, 2010. Cablevision’s proxy, filed in April, discloses that Ratner received more than $11.57 million, including $500,000 in base salary, $2.3 million in stock awards, a $5.57 million bonus, and nearly $3.15 million in “Other” compensation ($3 million of which was a deferred compensation award).

How does Ratner juggle both jobs? Well, the amended 10-K explains that Madison Square Garden:

“…acknowledges that, in addition to Mr. Ratner’s services pursuant to the agreement, he will simultaneously serve, and is expected to devote a portion of his business time and attention to serving, as Vice Chairman of Cablevision. The Company recognizes and agrees that his responsibilities to Cablevision will preclude him from devoting all of his time and attention to the Company’s affairs. The agreement states the Company’s recognition that there may be certain potential conflicts of interest and fiduciary duty issues associated with Mr. Ratner’s dual roles at the Company and Cablevision….”

Meanwhile, James Dolan, the Executive Chairman of Madison Square Garden (and son of Charles Dolan, Cablevision’s founder, whose five other children and three other relatives are also on Cablevision’s payroll) has a similarly sweet gig. On top of the $2.41 million in total compensation he got from Madison Square Garden in 2010, James Dolan got more than $13.44 million in total compensation from Cablevision.

And Madison Square Garden is similarly understanding about James Dolan multi-tasking for the two companies, acknowledging in the 10-K/A that Dolan

“…will simultaneously serve, and is expected to devote most of his business time and attention to serving, as President and Chief Executive Officer of Cablevision. The Company recognizes and agrees that his responsibilities to Cablevision will preclude him from devoting a substantial portion of his time and attention to the Company’s affairs.”

You might think that it doesn’t get any better than having a job like Ratner’s or Dolan’s, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Because in addition to the enviable compensation they already get, they don’t have to pay for tickets (including the $4.50 per ticket facility surcharge or Ticketmaster’s steep convenience fees) like the rest of us do. And yet as far as the company is concerned, this perk is not really a perk. The amended 10-K explains:

“From time to time certain employees, including the NEOs, have access to tickets to sporting events and other entertainment at the Company’s venues at no cost, and may also purchase tickets at face value. Attendance at such events is integrally and directly related to the performance of their duties, and, as such, we do not deem the receipt of such tickets to be perquisites.”

Primo seats for the Knicks – apparently it’s all in a day’s work.

Image source: Daniel Morris via flickr

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