After seven years at the helm of the most capacious theatrical venue in New York City, Dave Checketts is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of Madison Square Garden. Newsday reports that it's unclear whether Checketts is fired or quitting, but he has been under the gun following poor season by the New York Rangers and Knicks, which play at MSG and are also featured on the Garden's cable network. Newsday also reports that MSG chairman Charles Dolan (the CEO of Cablevision) will take a more hands-on role running the Garden.
Though more sports-related than theatre-oriented, the Garden has served as a home and co-producer of such large-scale entertainments as the annual Christmas Carol, which will mark its ninth anniversary next winter. The Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens holiday tuner proved theatre could fill a 5,600-seat arena in Manhattan. This paved the way for hosting Riverdance in 1996 and 1997 and hosting/co-producing The Wizard of Oz in 1998 and 1999. Most recently, the Theatre at Madison Square Garden hosted the tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, directed by Gabriel Barre.
Also on the theatre front under Checketts' watch, MSG bought Radio City Music Hall. The Tony Awards have been held there every year since 1997, except 1999, when the venue was undergoing extensive renovations and restorations.
According to Newsday, Checketts, a devout Mormon and Utah native, started his career at the consulting firm Bain & Company. His personality and deal-making skills served him well enough that by age 28, he was CEO of the Utah Jazz basketball team. Stints running the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks followed.
-- By David Lefkowitz