By ALAN SNEL
Early on, Golden Knights owner Bill Foley predicted the NHL would grant Las Vegas a hockey team after he started his season ticket drive.
And today, Foley made another bold prediction — that the team’s TV broadcast rights holder, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, will reach a deal with Cox to distribute Golden Knights games on the local cable TV system in Las Vegas.
“We’re very confident,” Foley told LVSportsBiz.com Monday at the Golden Knights ceremony to christen their new practice facility and headquarters, City National Arena.
Foley said the philosophy of granting the regional TV rights to AT&T SportsNet, which owns DirecTV, to broadcast Golden Knights games on TV was based on the strategy of providing TV coverage to the western states — not just the Las Vegas market.
“We wanted broad coverage,” Foley said Monday.
Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz told LVSportsBiz.com that it’s not unusual for a major-league team to negotiate a deal with a regional TV sports broadcaster and then have that broadcaster hammer out a deal with a local cable TV distributor such as Cox.
“It happens in every market,” Bubolz said. “It’s not an unusual process.”
Bubolz said the Golden Knights are supportive of both AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain and Cox coming together to reach a broadcast distribution deal before the Golden Knights start their season Oct. 6 when they play Dallas.
Juergen Barbusca, a Cox spokesman, was informed of Foley’s comments and had this to offer in an email.
“You may have heard me say earlier that we’re sports fans too and we’re excited about the Vegas Golden Knights. As we continue to discuss an agreement, our statement is unchanged,” Barbusca said Monday.
That statement reads: “We have begun discussions with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain about the possibility of adding the network in our Las Vegas market. We hope that we can come to an agreement that allows our customers to watch the Golden Knights, but at a reasonable cost. We know that many Las Vegas viewers are enthusiastic about the Golden Knights debut, but sports programming comes at an extremely high price. As we continually adjust our channel line-up, we must consider the needs of all our customers, not just sports/Golden Knights fans, and protect the value of the products and services we provide.”
Some Golden Knights fans are upset that Las Vegas’ major cable TV distributor, Cox, does not have a deal with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. And fans have criticized Foley for signing a TV broadcast rights deal with a regional sports broadcaster not already on the Cox system.
Keep in mind that AT&T SportsNet owns DirecTV, a Cox competitor. AT&T SportsNet already has a deal with Century Link in Las Vegas.
In other business news with the Golden Knights, Bubolz said the Golden Knights has cut a multi-year agreement with StubHub and AXS to make both the co-exclusive secondary ticket partners of the NHL team. AXS will also be the club’s primary ticket partner.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com