As executive vice president and chief communications officer 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 34-year MSG veteran, Mr. Watkins is responsible for communications activities across the company, including for the Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, Sports Properties and MSG’s original productions – the Christmas Spectacular and New York Spectacular, both starring the Radio City Rockettes. He oversees the company's senior public relations staff as well as strategic communications planning and execution for all announcements, corporate strategy, financial reporting and events at all company venues. Mr. Watkins also manages the company's Premier Services and Hospitality, Events, Archives 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. Most recently, this has included MSG’s plans to build a groundbreaking music and entertainment-focused venue in Las Vegas; as well as the Company’s investments in TAO Group, a world-class hospitality group, and Boston Calling Events, which produces the Boston Calling Music Festival. Past highlights include the unprecedented, three-year Transformation of the Madison Square Garden Arena; the acquisitions of the Forum in Inglewood, CA, the Beacon Theatre and Radio City Music Hall; and the 1994 New York Rangers Stanley Cup victory. He has 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. Since 2012, Mr. Watkins has also played an important role in the development of special television programs on MSG Networks that chronicle the history and transformation of The Garden, and the Garden of Dreams Foundation, which have garnered 25 New York Emmy award nominations and five New York Emmy wins.
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 positively impact the lives of children facing obstacles. The Foundation works with 28 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 325,000 children and their families. In addition, the Foundation’s Giving program provides vital resources to help its partner organizations meet critical needs, including direct support of scholarships and long-lasting community projects such as the refurbishment of pediatric areas at local hospitals, basketball courts and community centers.
A fixture at MSG for more than three decades, Mr. Watkins started as a student associate 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 was then also appointed chief communications officer in 2015.
Mr. Watkins is a graduate of St. John's University. He is married with two children and lives on Long Island.