qualified for $6.2 million in credits to support the production of “The
Bronx Is Burning,
”a television mini-series....For
the past 25 years,
Connecticut has been last in the nation in job creation, with no net
job creation over that period."
12/26/13, "For ESPN, Millions to Remain in Connecticut
," NY Times, Steve Eder
"With nearly 100 million households paying
about $5.54 a month for ESPN, regardless of whether they watch it, the
network takes in more than $6 billion a year in subscriber fees alone
Still, ESPN has received about $260 million in state tax breaks and
credits over the past 12 years, according to a New York Times analysis
of public records. That includes $84.7 million in development tax
credits because of a film and digital media program, as well as savings
of about $15 million a year since the network successfully lobbied the
state for a tax code change in 2000.
For Mr. Malloy and other public officials in Connecticut, the
conventional wisdom is that any business with ESPN is good business.
After all, ESPN is Connecticut’s most celebrated brand and a homegrown
success story, employing more than 4,000 workers in the state....
The critics say ESPN has been successful in getting an audience at the
State Capitol in Hartford partly because of its ability to communicate
its needs effectively to the state’s decision makers. ESPN employs one
of the top lobbying firms in Connecticut and has spent $1.2 million on
lobbying expenses since 2007, records show.
He sees ESPN as a magnet for attracting other sports media jobs to his
NBC Sports, which also received state benefits, recently opened
its new headquarters in Connecticut. “I don’t want to imagine
Connecticut without ESPN,” Mr. Malloy said in a telephone interview,
adding that state incentive programs benefited large and small
companies. “We want ESPN to have the biggest possible footprint in
Connecticut, and we want them spending their dollars in Connecticut
instead of any other state.”
Since 2000, ESPN has spent about $1 billion on construction in and
around Bristol, a town of about 60,000, erecting 13 new buildings and
expanding several others. During that period, the company’s work force
in Connecticut has swelled from 1,700 to more than 4,000. That makes
ESPN the 25th-largest employer in the state, according to rankings by
the Hartford Business Journal....
Incentives to Stay
By the spring of 2000, ESPN had shed its roots as a small start-up and
was beginning to look more like a mature corporate behemoth.
Disney, its owner, looked to ESPN as a key part of its revenue machine
and one poised for immense growth. The network had 1,700 employees in
Bristol, and another 700 worked elsewhere — as the network now had
facilities or subsidiaries in seven other states.
That is when ESPN did what other big, multinational companies had done:
It went to the statehouse in Hartford and sought financial incentives
exchange for continued growth in Connecticut. At the top of ESPN’s
agenda was supporting a measure by state lawmakers that would change the
corporate tax formula in a way that would save broadcasters money.
The lawmakers approved the change to the corporate tax formula, and a
review by Connecticut’s Office of Legislative Research in 2004 showed
that ESPN was fulfilling its promise to the legislature.
ESPN opened the 136,000-square-foot Digital Center 1.
In 2006, as ESPN continued to grow, the Connecticut General Assembly,
along with Mr. Malloy’s predecessor, M. Jodi Rell, had designs on
expanding the state’s digital media sector.
They wanted to offer tax
incentives to companies that use the state as a base for initiatives
like making films, building studios and increasing their online
operations. Since the program began, the state has awarded about $450
million in tax credits to businesses that have spent $1.6 billion in the
ESPN has been among the largest participants in that program, spending
$318 million in Connecticut and receiving $84.7 million in tax
certificates — about a fifth of the total amount awarded. Companies like
Blue Sky Studios and World Wrestling Entertainment have also benefited.
a television mini-series.
George Norfleet, the director of the state’s Office of Film, Television
and Digital Media, said he was in regular contact with ESPN, treating
the network as a “corporate constituent” with room for growth. “We want
to make sure that happens here, not in Orlando or Los Angeles,” he said.
Mr. Malloy, for his part, is comfortable with the state’s ties to ESPN.
In fact, the governor said he would like more of them.