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MLB announced on Tuesday that they are taking over the production and distribution of Diamondbacks’ games. A bankruptcy judge approved Diamond Sports Group’s request to “shed” their contract, as ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez put it, making Arizona the second club to have their broadcasts become MLB’s responsibility: less than two months ago, the Padres became the first.
Blackouts for fans in the “home television territory” have been eliminated for Diamondbacks’ games in the process, by way of a few different options. A “direct-to-consumer” streaming plan through MLB.tv is available, for either $19.99 per month or $54.99 for the rest of the 2023 season: it should be pointed out that this is a separate charge from the usual MLB.tv subscription, so if you’re in Arizona, for instance, and wanted to watch Diamondbacks’ games on the service you previously could not since they were blacked out, that’s still designed solely for out-of-market games.
However, MLB.tv isn’t the only way to watch, either. Per Gonzalez:
MLB cut deals with several cable companies — DirecTV, Xfinity, Cox and Spectrum — to air D-backs games through their services. Those will be available on different channels, all of which are listed on dbacks.com/watch. Fans’ guides will list the channel simply as “Arizona Diamondbacks.”
I don’t think this is a perfect solution, but as far as being able to throw something together that can be replicated during Bally’s decision to exit some markets, it works. The real concern is about what happens after the 2023 season: the Diamondbacks aren’t getting their last payment of the season from Bally, with MLB covering up to 80 percent of that revenue as needed just as they said they would for the Padres and any other club this might have happened to. What about next year, though? That’s something that’s surely being worked on now and will become known in the offseason, but I’m much more curious about the permanent solution (or more permanent stopgap) than I am this temporary one, especially as it relates to team revenue. The Padres need to keep pulling in cash to be able to afford the roster they’ve built, and the Diamondbacks are clearly up and comers who can’t afford to not be able to afford to keep that going, so while the baseline need for getting this right could be classified as “vital,” you can see how it’s even more so here. Not to say that the A’s or Pirates wouldn’t “need” this corrected, either, but, you know. It’s not like they’d use the money or anything on their team, anyway.
On Friday, I wrote about a piece published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal that was more of a regurgitated press release than journalism. The story, written by Mick Akers, took an authority’s word as gospel regarding the (un)likelihood that the A’s would actually spend the entirety of the $380 million cap in public funding they’d been allotted by the state. I have a lot of regrets about the whole A’s move to Las Vegas, but after seeing another story by Akers from the Review-Journal on the subject, I have more.
This time, the headline is “A’s ballpark on Strip perfect for Vegas, expert says,” and you’ll never believe it, but said expert is in the business of helping sports teams get publicly-financed stadiums. Of course this guy thinks the A’s ballpark is perfect for Vegas! He thinks every publicly-financed stadium is perfect for every city that would put one in, because as long as it’s believed that they are capable of any kind of public good, the firm at which he’s a partner will continue to make lots and lots of money helping those deals exist in the first place.
It takes until the fifth paragraph of a 13-paragraph story for Akers to even mention why this “stadium financing expert” can be called such, and then the mention is just limply left there:
[Alan] Hoffman has represented various teams in their financing of stadiums, including the San Francisco 49ers. The firm created the financing structure needed to secure $850 million that went toward building the team’s Levi’s Stadium in 2012.
No questions about why Hoffman might be biased in his expertise regarding the A’s, no concerns or counterarguments to what Hoffman is allowed to argue in Akers’ space. Such as:
“Some of the smaller cities are really struggling to find the kind of sponsorship deals they see other teams being able to access,” Hoffman said. “Las Vegas doesn’t have traditionally the corporate Fortune 500 companies. But these casinos are wonderful partners for sponsorships. They kind of work together collectively, showing off their dual entertainment options, casinos on one end and sports on the other. There’s more money to be made on those sponsorships than if you had Ford Motor Company, or IBM, pick your Fortune 500 company.
If this is true —that casinos make for wonderful sponsors that are superior to even Fortune 500 companies — then there should be some evidence to back it up, no? Considering that Las Vegas already has multiple major league professional sports teams in the NHL’s Golden Knights and the NFL’s Raiders, we’ve already got our lab rats and a few years of data to analyze from their time in the maze. But no, rather than either backing up the above quote or disputing it, another quote from Hoffman follows that one, and then the story ends with the reader left to assume these are facts that stand on their own. The cosmic ballet goes on, Mick Akers’ work is done here.
Hopefully someone writes the story that Akers didn’t, because I’m curious how much financial support the casinos are willing to give the local sports teams. And how willing they’ll be to support a trash fire of a franchise if the A’s continue to run themselves like they do in Oakland after they’ve already secured their Las Vegas bag — after all, it’s incumbent on the city of Las Vegas to keep the A’s satisfied in Oakland from now on, not the other way around, especially now that John Fisher will have his permanent revenue-sharing checks back once more in MLB’s smallest media market.
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