Sports media giant ESPN has opened its new digital media center on its Bristol campus.
ESPN anchor Sara Walsh gave the dignitaries and visiting press a tour of the new 10,000 square foot Sports Center set inside the building called Digital Center 2. The complex represents a $175 million investment by the company, and it was also supported by $10 million in tax credits from the state of Connecticut.
That's considerably less than the original deal of more than $18 million in loans and grants announced in 2011, but it's support that was gratefully acknowledged by ESPN President John Skipper at the ribbon cutting. "And part of the good news about this building is that ESPN growth continues in Connecticut," he told the crowd. "Our roots are deep here in this state. We touch all four corners of the state with employees living in 133 towns."
In taking the tax credits, ESPN agreed to create at least 200 new jobs by 2017. Governor Dannel Malloy is taking fire from Republican opponents for what some dub corporate welfare, but he said that's not realistic. "We have 3,800 jobs at this company right now," he said in answer to press questions. "They could have built this studio in Texas -- where they built one; they could have built this studio in Los Angeles -- where they built one, and ultimately we got this studio here. Quite frankly, a part of economic development is to protect your flank."
Digital media is one of the industries the Malloy administration has pursued aggressively, along with bioscience and advanced manufacturing. The governor seemed at home on the set as he took a turn in the anchor's chair, joking that he'll be calling for a job if his own contract isn't renewed in November.