ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Bally Sports operator asks out of Diamondbacks TV contract

Jun 22, 2023, 10:41 AM | Updated: 10:45 am

Bally Sports Arizona, Diamondbacks...

The Bally Sports Arizona logo is seen before the game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on May 31, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 6-0. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Diamond Sports, the owner of the Bally Sports Arizona regional network, filed in bankruptcy court a request to reject the current television contract it has with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Sports confirmed Thursday through records in the Southern District of Texas Bankruptcy Court.

The motion will go to a June 29 hearing and is requested to be effective June 30. Diamond Sports’ next rights fee payment is due July 1.

The current D-backs deal continues through 2035.

If approved, the D-backs would either need to renegotiate a deal to remain on Bally Sports Arizona, or game broadcasts could be taken over by Major League Baseball. The San Diego Padres, who previously were under the Bally Sports umbrella, have already gone under MLB broadcast control.

In February, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league was ready to take on game broadcasts in the event Diamond Sports could no longer function as the rights holder.

“We are prepared no matter what happens with respect to Diamond to make sure the games are available to fans in their local markets,” Manfred said at Cactus League Media Day. “We think it will be both linear in the traditional cable bundle and digitally on our own platforms, but that remains to be seen.”

A bankruptcy judge on June 1 ruled in favor of Major League Baseball against Diamond Sports, forcing the company to fulfill its end of contracts for the rights to broadcast MLB games. The Diamondbacks were ordered to receive the full payment of $18 million, according to Arizona’s Law.

After missing a $140 million interest payment, Diamond Sports Group, the company that operates Bally Sports regional networks, entered bankruptcy in March.

Bally Sports Arizona currently holds the rights to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Coyotes.

It is also in a legal battle to retain the rights of the Phoenix Suns, who announced a new agreement before the end of their prior contract.

A judge ruled with Diamond Sports and said in May that the new media deal announced by the Suns with Gray Television and Kiswe is void for now. That is as Diamond Sports remains in bankruptcy.

Under Chapter 11, the company has frozen assets, allowing it to refinance and reorganize. The broadcasting rights contract with the Suns for this season remains and includes a right of refusal that allows the company to match any new deal signed by the teams if the rights are for less money.

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