So I loved just about everything about my four years in Tucson at the University of Arizona, but I could never get over the fact that non-national games on My 45 or UPN 45 or whatever Channel 45 wants to call itself were not on in my area.
That’s a problem for me again this weekend, as I’m back in the Old Pueblo for the ASU-UA game.
Although the football game is already televised by ESPN, FSAZ decided it needs to televise the “Duel in the Desert” as well, pushing the Suns to My45.
In fact, during a recent Suns telecast on FSAZ, Fox Sports sideline reporter Robby Incmikoski proclaimed, “Fox Sports Arizona is the only place for coverage you won’t see anywhere else.”
Uh, yeah, except that network called ESPN. You may have heard about it.
So tonight college football fans in the state may be a bit preoccupied, but it still begs the question, why aren’t Suns games on My45 televised in the great city of Tucson?
When I covered Suns training camp for the Arizona Daily Wildcat in 2005, Suns owner and Tucson native Robert Sarver told me they have tried for years to get the Suns on the tube in Tucson, if nothing else so that his mother can watch the team he owns.
“All I know is my poor mom is upset she doesn’t get to watch the games,” Sarver said three years ago. “Than I got her the NBA package, but the NBA package games are blocked down here because we’re too close to Phoenix or something, so we need to try to fix it.”
Three years later, the Suns still need to fix it.
Chris Kat, the sports executive producer for UPN in Phoenix, said UPN Phoenix and UPN Tucson are owned by different companies, thus UPN in Tucson would be required to pay rights fees to televise the games as well.
Tod Smith, the president and general manager of UPN Tucson, said about two years ago a press release went out in error stating that MyTucson would televise the games along with My45. The Suns later issued a correction to the press release.
At the time Smith said his station asked the Suns about their situation in Tucson but was “told that league rules did not allow such a partnership.”
That could be why Kat said Sarver “absolutely has been wanting to do that (put games on in Tucson), just don’t know where he’s gotten with it.”
It doesn’t sound like anybody’s gotten too far on it or will get too far on it, which is really a shame for everybody involved.
It’s a shame for the Suns not building a fan base in Tucson, a shame for the network that would likely get much better ratings tonight with Suns-Jazz than “Miracle on 34th Street,” and most of all a shame for the Suns fans in Tucson who can’t follow their team.