Wednesday September 27, 2023

Diamond Sports Seeks Approval to Drop Diamondbacks’ RSN Deal

  • Parent of Bally Sports calls deal with the Diamondbacks 'unnecessary and burdensome.'
  • Diamond Sports filed for bankruptcy in March, and already cut ties with the Padres.
Bally Sports
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Diamond Sports Group is seeking approval to ditch another MLB club as part of its bankruptcy case. 

Lawyers for the parent company of Bally Sports filed an emergency motion Thursday requesting approval from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Chris Lopez to reject DSG’s broadcast agreement with the Arizona Diamondbacks — a deal that the regional sports network described as  “unnecessary and burdensome.” 

“The rights fee payments under the Diamondbacks agreement total tens of millions of dollars annually and increase yearly,” DSG lawyers wrote in the motion. “Unfortunately, the debtors [DSG] lose significant sums on the Diamondbacks agreement.” 

The next payment to the Diamondbacks as part of the deal that runs through 2035 is due July 1. DSG requested a June 29 hearing on the matter. 

If Lopez approves, the Diamondbacks will join the San Diego Padres as the second MLB team to lose carriage on Bally Sports. MLB and the Padres acted swiftly last month to provide local fans with streaming and broadcast options after DSG missed a payment to the club.

During a two day-hearing that concluded on June 1, Lopez ordered DSG to pay Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians, Texas Rangers, and Minnesota Twins what they were owed under their respective deals. DSG made its payment to the Rangers ahead of a deadline last week.

“The current costs associated with performing under the Diamondbacks agreement outweigh the revenues the debtors are able to obtain through broadcasting Diamondbacks games,” DSG wrote in the filing. “As such, the debtors have concluded that the Diamondbacks agreement does not fit within the debtors’ long-term strategic plan and therefore is not necessary to the debtors’ business.”

Diamond Sports Group, a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, filed for bankruptcy protection in March as it sought to restructure about $8 billion in debt.

Lopez blocked the Phoenix Suns’ attempt to exit its deal with DSG, which ruled violated the automatic stay in the case. But as soon as the next NBA season, the Suns are expected to push forward with its new setup without an RSN. 

Minus the Diamondbacks and Suns, the only major pro team on Bally Sports Arizona would be the Coyotes.

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