Kroenke to control teams' media rights

Updated: February 9, 2004, 3:20 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Kroenke Sports Enterprises LLC, owner of the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets, is starting its own regional cable TV network, officials said Monday.

The company's television contract with Fox Sports Net expires after the current NBA and NHL seasons. Kroenke Sports co-owner Stan Kroenke last week rejected an offer to broadcast Nuggets and Avalanche games that Fox Sports Net officials termed final and lucrative.

Officials of the new network, which has not yet been named, are negotiating with cable and satellite television providers to carry the network's programming, said Jim Martin, CEO of the new KSE Media Ventures LLC, which will operate the network.

He said Kroenke Sports is looking to have the network carried on basic or expanded-basic channel lists to ensure wide availability. The network will air its first games in September, he said.

By taking control of its teams' media rights, Kroenke Sports can generate more revenue that can be poured into the teams for player contracts and other expenses, Martin said.

Kroenke Sports president Don Elliman said the decision to start a network does not reflect any dissatisfaction with Fox Sports Net. He said Kroenke Sports officials believe they can generate more revenue and exposure for the company's teams by taking control of the media rights.

Fox Sports Net officials did not immediately return a call for comment.

Martin said the network would carry Nuggets and Avalanche games as well as games from the Kroenke-owned Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League and various college and high school games around the region. It also will carry live entertainment events and cultural programming, he said.

"Sports is the core, but we will also make this an entertainment and even a community-service network," he said.

Fox Sports Net has aired Nuggets games for more than 15 years and Avalanche games since 1995. It still has contracts with the Colorado Rockies through the 2007 season and with the Utah Jazz, University of Denver, the Big 12 and Pac-10 conferences for football, and the Atlantic Coast Conference for basketball.

It serves about 2.2 million cable subscribers in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and parts of Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas and Nevada.

Kroenke Sports also owns the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets and Avalanche play, as well as pro soccer's Colorado Rapids. It plans to build the Major League Soccer franchise its own stadium by 2006.

The company also owns the Paramount Theater and Universal Lending Pavilion in Denver, which could provide additional venues for programming.

Along with former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway and Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, Kroenke is part owner of the Arena Football League's Colorado Crush, which also plays at the Pepsi Center.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press