This week, the MLB asked the court overseeing Bally Sports’ bankruptcy to push the regional sports network to offer a new TV contract for its teams. In that filing, we learned that the league is expecting Bally Sports to drop at least one team after the end of the 2023 season. This comes as Bally Sports also asked the judge to give it extra time to create a plan to get out of bankruptcy.
In the filing to the judge, MLB has come forward to object to Bally Sports’ request to push back the deadline for plan to get out of bankruptcy. MLB has also asked that Bally Sports decide now if it will renew its contracts with all 11 MLB teams as, according to league, one team will soon be dropped by Bally Sports.
Here’s what the MLB said in the court filing:
Seven months—and the entire MLB 2023 regular season—later, the Debtors are no closer to addressing this concern or deciding whether Diamond Sports Group will reorganize or liquidate. The Debtors have requested extensions of exclusivity twice and the Debtors continue to shed telecast arrangements with teams across multiple leagues on an ad hoc and unexpected basis. The Debtors and certain non-Debtor affiliates began these chapter 11 cases with telecast arrangements with 14 MLB Clubs. As of the filing of this Motion, this number is down to 12 and will almost certainly drop to 11 at the conclusion of the postseason.
A spokesperson for Diamond Sports Group, the parent company of Bally Sports, sent us the following statement. “Diamond disputes MLB’s misguided attempt to oppose a customary extension in a complex, multi-billion-dollar restructuring involving myriad stakeholders, with whom Diamond is making significant progress. Diamond is current in its rights payments and has satisfied its broadcasting obligations to all MLB teams under contract for the now concluded 2023 MLB regular season.”
We don’t know what team MLB thinks Bally Sports will drop, but it may not be the only attempt to drop a team. Bally Sports needs to decide if it will keep multiple NBA and NHL teams. The NHL season has already kicked off, and the NBA season starts later this month, with both leagues waiting for a long-term contract.
The NBA teams Bally Sports currently has contracts with are the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs. Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks. (The Pelicans have reportedly already been paid.)
The NHL teams that Bally Sports currently has contacts with are the Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Los Angeles Kings.
Bally Sports will likely pay to keep most, if not all, of the teams. However, the company is reportedly hoping to reach a deal to reduce their payments to unprofitable teams or explore dropping them altogether.
Bally Sports needs to wait for the judge to approve the request, but some MLB teams have already said they have back up plans if a deal is not reached. The question now is which MLB team does the league think Bally Sports will drop.
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