AP

MLB prepared to take over local TV broadcasts from Sinclair

Feb 9, 2023, 5:18 PM | Updated: 5:48 pm

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks with the news media after a meeting of MLB ow...

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks with the news media after a meeting of MLB owners, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — About $1 billion of Major League Baseball’s revenue is at risk if a cable television company fails to make payments for local broadcasting rights to 14 teams, and the sport is preparing to take over telecasts.

“I think you should assume that if Diamond doesn’t broadcast, we’ll be in a position to step in,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after an owners’ meeting. “Our goal would be to make games available not only within the traditional cable bundle but on the digital side, as well.”

Sinclair acquired 21 regional sports networks in 2019 from The Walt Disney Co., which had taken them over as part of its purchase of 21st Century Fox. Sinclair also holds rights to 16 NBA teams and 12 NHL franchises, and teams fear in an era of cord-cutting they may not get payments from Diamond Sports Group, the Sinclair Broadcast Group subsidiary operating the networks under the name Bally Sports.

“What we do is largely dependent on how Diamond and the creditors play their cards, what they decide to do,” Manfred said. “Our No. 1 goal in terms of preparations is that if for some reason Diamond isn’t broadcasting, that we want to be in a position to make sure our fans are going to get their games.”

Asked whether $1 billion or $2 billion was at stake, Manfred said: “Closer with the first number than the second.”

Billy Chambers, who had been Sinclair’s chief financial offer, started work this month with MLB in a new position as executive vice president for local media.

Diamond owns rights to local broadcasts for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers.

Baseball executives met at The Breakers, a 97-year-old Renaissance Revival style hotel. The lobby was filled with a mix of baseball executives and women in pink floral summer dresses, some in hats, attending the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s Palm Beach Hot Pink Luncheon and Symposium.

OAKLAND/LAS VEGAS BALLPARK

On other major topic, Manfred said he views the Athletics’ search for a new ballpark as “Oakland and/or Las Vegas.”

“This year they kind of got a deadline,” he said. “They need to have an agreement in place by next January — really important from the perspective of the club.”

RAYS BALLPARK

Tampa Bay announced plans on Jan. 30 to build a ballpark near Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The team has been searching for a new stadium for 15 years, and owner Stu Sternberg says the Rays can’t afford to stay in their current ballpark when their lease expires after the 2027 season.

“We did not talk about the Rays situation,” Manfred said. “Everything that’s happened recently Stu covered in great detail in the last owners meeting. We had a nice layout of what was coming, so there was no real update there.”

STARTING EXTRA INNINGS WITH RUNNER ON SECOND

The rule was adopted as a pandemic measure for the 2020 season and appears likely to stay.

“The clubs discussed the permanence of that rule. It’s got to go back to the on-field committee,” Manfred said. “Clubs have gotten used to the extra-innings rule. I think it’s generally well-liked by players. I don’t bet on anything, but if you were going to make a bet, it think it’s a pretty good bet it’s going to continue.”

REVENUE DISPARITY

A new committee on economic reform met this week.

“Revenue disparity, really important topic in the industry right now. It’s not unrelated to the local media issues,” Manfred said.

Manfred said MLB had $10.8 billion in revenue last year. Some teams have become alarmed the New York Mets, entering their third season under owner Steve Cohen, have increased payroll to about $370 million — well above the record $291 million of the 2015 Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I think people know what happened in the winter. I think that they understand that it happened within the confines of the system they negotiated and beating your gums about it doesn’t accomplish a lot,” Manfred said. “In aggregate, I think that the group has matured into better.”

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

San Francisco chairman Greg Johnson replaced Colorado chairman Dick Montfort and Cleveland chairman Paul Dolan replaced Boston principal owner John Henry on the executive council.

The council also includes Los Angeles Dodgers chairman Mark Walter and Detroit Tigers chairman Christopher Ilitch (whose terms expire in 2024); Philadelphia managing partner John Middleton and Kansas City chairman John Sherman (2025) and Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick and Seattle chairman John Stanton (2026)

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

15 hours ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

8 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

9 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

10 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

11 days ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

MLB prepared to take over local TV broadcasts from Sinclair