Throwback time. For much of the 25 and under crowd, it may be tough to believe there was ever a time before Fox Sports Detroit. Alas, prior to FSD’s takeover, the regional sports airways were owned by the one, the only, PASS Sports:
A little background:
The Pro-Am Sports Network (PASS) got its start in 1983, when it became one of the first regional sports network in the country. Broadcasting a sampling of Tigers, Red Wings, and Pistons games as a premium channel (airing only in evenings and on weekends), PASS was purchased by Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan and moved to Domino’s headquarters in 1984.
In 1992, Monaghan sold PASS to Post-Newsweek, who promptly moved PASS back to Detroit and shifted it to basic cable, vastly broadening the channel’s reach as it crossed over into a 24-hour network.
Alongside live broadcasts of three of Detroit’s four major sports, PASS also provided regular coverage of the CCHA and local horse racing (shout out to Northville Downs).
The demise of PASS began in 1996 with the creation of regional rival Fox Sports Detroit. In a stunning turn of events, Fox quickly acquired the rights to Pistons broadcasts by outbidding PASS by an estimated 30-40%.
When Fox then won the rights to the Tigers and Red Wings in 1997, the writing was on the wall. PASS sold the remaining year of their Tigers and Red Wings deals (and the contract of John Keating, interestingly enough) and the station soon bid its farewell, signing off on midnight of October 31, 1997.
In all, PASS churned out 14 solid years of Detroit sports television, providing Michiganders with their first taste of local sports cable nirvana, in all its slightly dulled production glory. Thanks for memories, PASS… and the complimentary ice scraper.