Minnesota-based Fox Sports Net North Tuesday announced a six-year rights deal
with the National Basketball Association Minnesota Timberwolves, further
cementing its position in the marketplace against upstart Victory Sports
Fox will distribute a minimum of 35 regular season Timberwolves contests, as
well as potential playoff games, according to network vice president and general
manager, Steve Woelfel.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Woelfel confirmed that Fox paid a
'fair' increase to the T'Wolves.
'The deal allows us to continue to build upon Fox's strong regional sports
network tradition in the upper midwest,' Woelfel said.
Fox's agreement ends a very hotly contested rights battle between Fox and
Victory Sports, which is owned by Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins.
Victory was hoping to use the Timberwolves as the centerpiece to launch its
own regional sports network later this year.
Timberwolves president Rob Moor said a deal with the yet-established Victory
Sports Network would have been too risky a venture - especially without an
opportunity to become partners in the fledgling network.
'We felt there was a great deal of risk with the Victory option that didn't
result enough of a return to justify the secure and certain revenues presented
by Fox,' Moor said.
Representatives from Victory could not be reached for comment at press time.
The agreement is the second setback for Victory against Fox: the network lost
a lawsuit battle last May that could have brought Twins games to Victory this
Victory claimed the team could get out of its current deal with Fox due to
language in the deal surrounding an adequate stadium deal for the team.
Fox Sports claimed its contract calls for an extension of its Twins deal
through the 2002 and 2003 seasons if there is 'an acceptable stadium solution,
excluding a new stadium.'
The team contended it did not have an 'acceptable' stadium deal, but a U.S.
District Court Judge ruled that the franchise has a lease to play in its current
stadium - the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome - through the next two