Where's my Cardinals game?

Unhappy St. Louis Cardinals fans in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Arkansas are asking this very question.

"Where's my Cardinals game?"

That's the question being asked by scores of St. Louis Cardinals fans in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Arkansas as some or all of the team's television broadcasts on FOX Sports Midwest from the first week of the 2009 regular season have been missing from their local cable systems.

As is usually the case in such situations, the matter is money.

When FS Midwest increased their slate of games to 130 from 110 two seasons ago, they asked cable and satellite providers for an increase in fees to help offset the rights fees and additional production costs. Most systems complied.

Two exceptions are Comcast in central Illinois and Mediacom in parts of Iowa. Those two providers have elected to remain at the 110 game-level this season. As a result, viewers in those areas have already missed two games and will not see 18 more over the course of the season.

The schedule for the entire season is not yet available, but here are the affected games for April:

April 7 vs. Pittsburgh 7 p.m.
April 8 vs. Pittsburgh 7 p.m.
April 21 vs. New York Mets 7 p.m.
April 22 vs. New York Mets 7 p.m.

Though any unhappy fans are too many, the problem is not widespread, explains FOX Sports Midwest Media Relations Manager Geoff Goldman. "Most distributors (serving approximately 90 percent of all homes in our Cardinals territory) have decided to provide their subscribers these games, yet a few have not," he said.

Comcast spokesmen were reached for comment by the Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph. The continuation of the earlier decision was confirmed.

"At this point I don't believe we will carry these (games)," John Niebur, Comcast director for the Peoria district, which includes Bloomington-Normal, told the paper last week.

Rich Ruggiero, regional spokesman for Comcast clarified. "These games come at a higher cost to us and we don't want to pass the charge on to our customers," he explained.

Believe it or not, the affected Cardinals fans in Iowa and Illinois actually have it good compared to their Comcast brethren in Arkansas.

I have been told that Comcast in the Razorback State will no longer be carrying the Cardinals this season, despite them being the majority favorite among baseball watchers there. In Arkansas, FOX Sports Southwest is the regional sports channel. In the past fans there could also catch Cardinals games on an alternate cable channel.

It still could change, but so far for this season, Comcast in Arkansas has not accepted the package that includes Cardinals games. It's that simple.

If you are in one of these areas and want to increase the odds of getting action, your best bet is to take up the issue with Comcast or Mediacom directly.

There are also alternatives.

For example, in Arkansas, Cardinals games can be viewed in the affected areas on FOX Sports Midwest via satellite with a subscription to the DirecTV SportsPack or Dish Network MultiSport package.

In central Illinois, one can get the Cards with a regular level of DirecTV or Dish service. In Iowa, the Cardinals can be viewed with a regular level of service on Dish. DirecTV varies by location in Iowa, so contact them for specifics.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Catch his Cardinals commentary daily at his blog, The Cardinal Nation.

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