“Bally Sports Big Opening Day” will air Thursday on Bally’s 19 regional sports networks. It will originate from Stadium’s studios in the United Center.
Another regional sports network is set to launch, and though it won’t be seen in Chicago, its grand opening will be held here.
The Fox Sports RSNs that Sinclair bought from Disney in August 2019 finally will be rebranded as Bally Sports on Wednesday. So viewers of, say, the St. Louis Blues and Cardinals on Fox Sports Midwest soon will be watching them on Bally Sports Midwest.
To celebrate, the network will air “Bally Sports Big Opening Day” from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Central on Thursday in conjunction with MLB’s Opening Day. The show will be produced and hosted by Stadium, another Sinclair property, and originate from its studios in the United Center.
However, the show will cover more than baseball.
“This isn’t a baseball Opening Day show, this is a Bally opening day show,” said Adam Anshell, Stadium managing director of operations. “As we see the rebrand happening, we want to shine a light on how much Bally Sports has. They’ll have 30 broadcasts on Opening Day across all the Bally networks between MLB, NHL, NBA.
“Between the teams themselves, there’s so many great stories and players, but also the talent that we have across these networks, whether it’s Matt Vasgersian [Angels], Chip Caray [Braves], Tom Glavine [Braves], Jim Edmonds [Cardinals], Jack Morris [Tigers], all of these names are part of this family. Now we can bring it all together in one place to kick things off with the Bally name.”
Bally has the rights to 14 MLB teams, and all of their games will be broadcast that day by their respective RSNs. All 19 Bally RSNs will carry the show, which will be hosted by Stadium’s Michael Kim, Bally Sports SoCal reporter Kristina Pink and Charlotte Hornets voice Eric Collins of Bally Sports Southeast.
As each opening game approaches, the show will send each audience to that game’s pregame show. For instance, the first network game is Indians-Tigers at 12:10 p.m. Central. At 11 a.m., that audience will leave the show for local pregame programming, but the Bally show will go on.
“The idea being if you want to come in a little early before your pregame show – or for some of those West Coast teams a lot early for their pregame show – there’s going to be a ton of great content, interviews, features, things like that,” Anshell said.
“We’ll even mix in some of the things that Stadium brings to the family, as well, with [college basketball reporter] Jeff Goodman being in Indianapolis for the Final Four, [NBA reporter] Shams Charania will be in studio to talk NBA. We’ll include the Tennis Channel, which is another Sinclair property. Really just trying to show the full scope of what we have available.”
Though Stadium doesn’t figure to put on such an extravaganza like this again, it could spark other collaborations between Stadium and its sister stations.
“Once we see the power of that, it could make an amazing opportunity to do more of that going forward,” Anshell said. “There’s a general sense that when Sinclair bought the RSNs, it wasn’t just to keep the status quo. It was trying to find more opportunities to grow and build these and building value in time periods beyond the games.”
Stadium sports network is available on over-the-air broadcast TV (Channel 62.2 in Chicago), its app, watchstadium.com and many other providers, such as YouTube TV, Sling TV and fuboTV. However, the show only can be seen on the Bally RSNs.
Still, some of Stadium’s programming might be familiar to viewers of Marquee Sports Network, which is jointly owned by Sinclair and the Cubs. Stadium produces two monthly shows for Marquee: “Chris & Tell,” an interview show hosted by Chris Myers, and “Class is in Session,” a topical show hosted by Doug Glanville that examines societal issues in sports.
And with 19 new siblings in the family, Stadium, which launched in August 2017, wants to do more.
“We’re looking for a bigger opportunity to come along with the RSNs,” Anshell said. “If we’re going to be able to launch any kind of regular programming that we would do on the RSNs, we want to be ready for that.”