New York's legendary Rockettes aren't going anywhere -- the only thing different will be the signature on the bottom of their paychecks. That's because Cablevision Systems Inc., owner of Madison Square Garden, MSG network, the and NY Knicks & Rangers, has purchased Radio City Music Hall, home of the annual Christmas Spectacular.
According to the NY Daily News, Cablevision plans to invest $25 million in the 5,901-seat Hall, including lobby renovation and TV equipment. MSG President Dave Checketts said he hopes to "return Radio City Hall to its original splendor." Doing so will entail shutting the Hall down for four months and cancelling the next Easter show.
The Long Island cable giant will lease the building from Tishman-Speyer for 25 years; the previous lease expires January 1998.
Built in 1932, Radio City fell on hard times in the 1970s. In 1996, developer Jerry Speyer bought Rockefeller Center and has since sought a new operator for Radio City Music Hall to boost its profile in the entertainment world. Said Checketts, "Instead of reaching just the people in the theatre, they could potentially be reaching millions of TV viewers."
Though ticket prices at Radio City are likely to rise (as they did for sports and other events at MSG), Cablevision CEO James Dolan did tell the News the good news: "The Rockettes are staying right where they are for at least the next 25 years." Founded in 1925, the Rockettes became the first and premiere attraction of Radio City Music Hall since its opening day, Dec. 27, 1932. -- By David Lefkowitz