ESPN Shows Why It's Still
Sports TV Leader
|By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press
It all started in a construction trailer. It is now the largest employer
in the city of Bristol and is also known as the "Worldwide leader in
sports." Naturally, we are talking about ESPN.
For many of us who lived in the central Connecticut area, we grew up with
ESPN. Or rather, ESPN grew up with us. We watched it grow, expand, buy and
demolish houses to add even more buildings. The growth has been incredible
to say the least, and the end isn't in sight.
I was lucky enough to get a first hand look at the headquarters of ESPN
when I was there to do a story on the show NASCAR Now.
Andy Hall, a longtime friend from his days at NASCAR as the public
relations director, is now in the same capacity at ESPN handling both
their Motorsports and their PGA golf.
Hall gave me a tour of the entire complex. To say that it is incredible is
Walking throughout ESPN, what amazed me the most is that every cubical, of
which there are hundreds, has their own television as well as computer.
And we are not talking about a 15' television. That doesn't include the
hundreds of other big screen televisions on the walls and in the
cafeteria. ESPN, being a sports company, has built a regular size
basketball court that is overlooked by the cafeteria complete with stands
and an operating scoreboard. Have a break, play a little hoops. During the
football season, they have a football field complete with hash marks. I
got a first-hand view of the taping of NASCAR Now, the ESPN program that
highlights NASCAR racing on a daily basis. The studio is much smaller than
I figured. When you walk into the room, the NASCAR Now set is on the right
and on the left is the set for the NBA studio host with a set of cameras
in the middle of the room. Marty Reid, host of NASCAR Now for that dayﾒs
taping, was rehearsing his lines, reading them off the teleprompter. The
producers and directors, who are in another part of the building, are
watching it all and giving instructions as too what will follow.
Later, Andy takes me where Jim Bowdon, coordinating producer of the show.
is overseeing the taping of NASCAR Now, where the video has been cut to be
shown over what Marty Reid is talking about. There are maybe 13 people
working in the darkened room. As the show is winding down, Reid makes a
mistake in reading his lines and apologizes to everyone as they get it set
up for him to do a retake.
As we leave, we weave our way through where the SportsCenter hosts are
writing their scripts for that nightﾒs show. Soon, they will get out of
their casual clothes and into their suits which are stored in their own
lockers. After that, they head off to the make up room and then onto your
Many of the desks in the newsroom at the time I am there are empty. Being
a 24-hour network, many people work different hours so that regardless of
what time you are at ESPN, it is always abuzz with workers. You can watch
some of the ESPN radio shows if you like or just look at the many
different televisions of either live or taped sports.
Under construction currently on the main ESPN campus are the Digital
Center 2 (which will house SportsCenter and other studios as well as
control rooms and production facilities), new generator plant and an
entrance facility, which will be the first building in Southington along
with 275 parking spots. Now, just down the road, heading north on Middle
St, is the former Superior Electric building that now has been taken over
by ESPN. The 'North Campus' has hundreds of offices there as well as a
huge tape library. ESPN is no longer the shot in the dark risk that was
taken so many years ago, it is now, unquestionably, the leader in sports
LOCAL RACING SCENE
As the racing season is just about to hit the midway point, we'll take a
look at who has done what.
The name of the month and pretty much the year has been that of 21-year
old Ryan Preece of Berlin. Preece leads not only the NASCAR Whelen
modified tour, having won three in a row, but also leads the points
standing at the Stafford Motor Speedway and is fourth in points at the
Nationally, as of last week Ryan was sixth in the country in points.
At Stafford, Preece leads by just two points over Woody Pitkat with Ted
Christopher third just six points out with Doug Coby fourth and Keith
In the SK lights, young Tony Membrino, Jr is just two points behind leader
At the Thompson Speedway, Kerry Malone leads the modified division by six
over Pitkat and eight over Keith Rocco with Preece just 10 points off the
At the Waterford Speedbowl, Rocco is the points leader. Rocco is also
third in the country in last week's NASCAR top 500 drivers with Preece,
Todd Ceravolo 11th overall and Ted Christopher 14th.
In the modified tour, Preece leads by 32 points over Rowan Pennick with
7-time modified tour champion, Mike Stefanik third just 35 points out.
Last yearﾒs champion, Doug Coby is fourth 53 points out with Plainville's
Ted Christopher eighth overall.
The next race for the Whelen modified tour is next Saturday and will be
shown live on Speed Channel.