Altitude wants a jury to referee its fight with Comcast, which continues to black out Avalanche and Nuggets games

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The Pepsi Center seen from Denver’s newest skyscraper, 1144 Fifteenth, March 22, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

In a lawsuit filed Monday, attorneys for Altitude Sports and Entertainment claim Comcast is trying to run the local sports channel out of town.

The complaint frames Altitude, which is owned by billionaire Stan Kroenke, as David in a battle against Goliath. Fans and local businesses have suffered as the contract dispute continues to block Nuggets and Avalanche faithful from seeing most games on TV.  And that's "pretty bogus," as one hockey bar owner put it.

Translating from legalese: Altitude says Comcast is trying to monopolize the Colorado sports market with "dramatic" cuts to what it pays Altitude for its content, knowing that those cuts would put the local channel out of business. Altitude claims the cable giant wants to fill the void with its own channel.

"Comcast now wants to extinguish competition from Altitude so that Comcast can pocket more of the money it takes from consumers each month for sports programming in the Denver (market)," the complaint states.

Comcast owns 92 percent of the Denver cable market, which includes 70 counties across Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming, according to the lawsuit. Altitude claims Comcast's intended takeover violates federal and state antitrust laws meant to increase competition and prevent monopolies.

The company demanded a trial by jury in the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court. Comcast isn't scared.

"This is a meritless lawsuit in an intensely competitive market where Comcast has no competitive regional sports network and Altitude has multiple distribution alternatives," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "Instead of pursuing baseless litigation, Altitude should engage in responsible commercial negotiations that would allow Comcast to distribute its programming to those customers who want it without driving up costs for customers who do not.  Since at this point Altitude has rejected all reasonable offers, we have provided our customers with a credit until we reach an agreement. We will vigorously defend ourselves against Altitude's claims."

Altitude's Denver attorney had not returned an interview request at the time of publishing.

DirectTV ended its holdout with Altitude on Nov. 1, meaning satellite customers can watch their Nuggets and Avs, no problem.

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