As executive vice president, communications and government affairs for The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), Barry Watkins oversees all aspects of the company's communications and government relations activities, as well as its extensive philanthropic efforts.
A 32-year MSG veteran, Mr. Watkins serves as chief communications officer, responsible for communications activities across all of the company's divisions, including the Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, Sports Properties and MSG Entertainment. He oversees the company's senior public relations staff as well as strategic communications planning and execution for all company announcements, corporate strategy, financial reporting, and events at all company venues. Mr. Watkins also manages the company's VIP Services, Corporate Events and Photography areas.
Over his long career with the company, Mr. Watkins has played an integral role in shaping the communications strategies for some of the most important and high-profile events and announcements in the company's history. These include the 1994 New York Rangers Stanley Cup victory, the unprecedented, three-year Transformation of the Madison Square Garden Arena, and the acquisitions of Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and the Forum in Inglewood, CA. He has also guided the media relations efforts surrounding the company's partnerships with Tribeca Enterprises, owner of the Tribeca Film Festival, and Azoff MSG Entertainment, and was a key contributor to MSG's successful spin-offs, first from Cablevision Systems Corporation in 2010, and then from MSG Networks Inc. in 2015. In addition, Mr. Watkins has been heavily involved in MSG's larger philanthropic efforts, directing communications for several of the company's prominent benefit concerts -- "The Concert for New York City," "From the Big Apple to the Big Easy" and "12-12-12, The Concert for Sandy Relief."
Mr. Watkins also helps drive MSG's ongoing commitment to the community. As chairman of The Garden of Dreams Foundation, the non-profit that works closely with MSG, Mr. Watkins leads the charity's commitment to "make dreams come true for children facing obstacles." The Foundation works with 25 partner organizations throughout the tri-state area – including hospitals, wish organizations and community-based organizations – to reach children who are facing challenges such as homelessness, extreme poverty, illness and foster care. Since its inception in 2006, Garden of Dreams has created thousands of unforgettable experiences that have brightened the lives of more than 275,000 children. In addition, the Foundation's Giving program provides vital resources to help its partner organizations meet critical needs, including direct support of scholarships and financial assistance for tangible community projects.
A fixture at MSG for more than three decades, Mr. Watkins started as a student with the New York Rangers in 1983. After being hired by the team's public relations department full-time in 1986, he went on to run the department three years later. Following the Rangers Stanley Cup victory in 1994, he joined MSG Network in 1995, where he served as vice president, marketing and public relations, before being named senior vice president of communications in 1997, followed by executive vice president of communications in 2010.
Mr. Watkins is a graduate of St. John's University. He is married with two children and lives on Long Island.