The St. Louis Pacers, anyone?
The NBA’s Indiana Pacers aren’t making the move from Indianapolis to Missouri’s largest market, but they are going to have a major television presence here for the rest of their season.
Fox Sports Midwest has struck a deal to televise 38 of Indiana’s 50 remaining games, starting tonight when they play in Boston at 7 (St. Louis time) and followed at 6 p.m. Saturday with their meeting with Milwaukee.
Fox Sports Midwest general manager Jack Donovan said live sports telecasts are a priority, that the goal is to have “games on every night of the week’’ whether it be the Cardinals, Blues, colleges or high schools. He said the absence of Blues games because of the NHL lockout had no impact on adding the Pacers.
“We wanted to get this up and running at the start of the NBA season,’’ he said, but it took a while to get the deal done. And although the schedule could change a bit if the NHL labor stalemate is broken, it probably would not be major revision.
The games tonight and Saturday will appear on Fox Sports Plus, the outlet to which spillover programming is sent when another event airs on the “main’’ channel. The location of FSM-Plus varies by programming provider, and most of the Pacers’ telecasts will be there — only eight of the 38 games on the schedule are set for the primary FSM channel. The first of those is at 6 p.m. Tuesday when Indiana faces defending NBA champ Miami.
On the surface it appears that the Pacers, who lead the NBA Central Division, are a low priority for FSM’s main outlet — a women’s basketball game between Northern Iowa and Illinois State is set for tonight while the NBA goes to the secondary option. But Donovan said it’s a complex scheduling situation.
“There are a lot of different contracts and promises we’ve made to teams and leagues,’’ he said. “We’re trying to find the right balance.’’
Donovan said FSM-Plus is “widely available’’ in most cases. However, DirecTV and Dish Network are not on board yet for the Pacers telecasts on either outlet because of a technical issue that is being addressed.
St. Louis is in a bit of a no-man’s land for pro basketball, with the Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies all being within about 250-300 miles of St. Louis. FSM had been considering airing a mix of Pacers, Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder telecasts (they all are properties of a Fox regional outlet) but it will show only the Pacers for now.
“This is a start,’’ Donovan said. “Maybe that’s something we can do at another time.’’
Nonetheless, the fact an NBA team is going to be shown on a regular basis in this market is a breakthrough. FSM will pick up Fox Sports Indiana’s telecasts. Chris Denari does play-by-play with either Quinn Buckner or Austin Croshere on commentary. Quinn has the call tonight.