If you follow the sports media closely, then you're aware that ESPN is pretty synonymous with Bristol, CT. Its rise from it's beginnings in 1979 on a small patch of land in Bristol to where it sits on 123 acres in Central Connecticut in 2013 is nothing short of amazing.
To build the vast ESPN campus requires money and that does not come from cable subscriber fees and advertising revenue alone. The New York Times reports that over the last 12 years, the State of Connecticut has ensured that ESPN will remain in the Constitution State by providing huge tax breaks to allow the Worldwide Leader invest in new construction, new media and new employees.
How huge? Try $260 million since 2001. The Times says by lobbying the state legislature, ESPN was able to get the Connecticut corporate tax formula changed which allowed it to grow exponentially.
ESPN's Bristol, CT campus is comprised of 19 buildings and employs some 4,000 people. In addition, the network's buildings have spread into neighboring Southington thanks to the expansion.
And while the state continues to look at ESPN as a model business, some are angry that the sports media behemoth has received incentives at the expense of taxpayers. One state senator told the Times that he's happy ESPN has been a Connecticut success story, but "I don’t think the taxpayers here in our state should be funding it.”
The expansion in Connecticut appears over for now and the empire has spread to facilities in California, Texas and North Carolina. But the base is in Bristol and thanks to some friendly state legislators, the company is committed to the bucolic town for many years to come.
Using ESPN as a model, the State of Connecticut was able to lure NBC Sports to move its headquarters from New York to Stamford through tax incentives and the Peacock officially opened a new 200,000 square foot facility earlier this year.
These expansion projects don't happen overnight and they require plenty of planning. For ESPN, getting legislative help to change tax laws and obtain movie and television tax credits was the key for the construction of two new buildings. Now the Worldwide Leader can boast of state-of-the-art facilities and a lot of land to house its farm of satellite dishes and gaggles of employees.