By Kaitlyn Naples
Last Wednesday, ESPN opened its doors to members of the media from around the country with a full day of discussions and tours of the campus, in particular, the network’s new digital center.
The digital center is nearly 200,000 square feet and is the 19th building in the Bristol campus, which is expected to open next spring.
A panel of ESPN officials and SportsCenter talent invited media members to a panel discussion that was held on the second floor of the soon-to-be Digital Center 2, which at this point is only walls, floors, and windows. However, officials said the new center is expected to have four studios, six control rooms, and 25 edit studios that will all enhance SportsCenter’s quality and communication to the public.
“I’ve been here a long time, and we’ve never done anything like this,” said Mark Gross, ESPN’s senior vice president and SportsCenter’s executive producer.
The new digital center will be the hub for SportsCenter and will allow for each show to look different, and allow for the anchors to interact with the data and scores being shown in split screen graphics, instead of full-screen that it only has access to now.
“There will be a lot of features in the facility, and better sets, to (allow the anchors) to tell the story better,” said Chuck Pagano, who is ESPN’s executive vice president of Technology and chief Technology officer.
Pagano said there will be 13 cameras in the new center, which is going to be what he calls “future proofed” as it is going to be able to adapt easily to the changes in technology.
In 2011, ESPN was chosen to be one of the “First Five,” an economic development incentive that Governor Dannel Malloy launched that year. Under the program, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), has the ability to award financial assistance to the first five companies that pledge to add at least 200 full-time jobs in Connecticut within the next two years. In this program, ESPN was expected to receive a $17.5 million loan from the DECD for construction of the new facility.
This new facility “will revolutionize the way we anchor a show,” Michael Shiffman, senior coordinating producer at ESPN, said, adding that the new studio will enhance storytelling, especially because rehearsals with graphics will be able to take place since there is more than one studio.
For mobile app users, Senior Vice President of Editorial, Print and Digital Media at ESPN Rob King said the ScoreCenter application will be transformed into a SportsCenter application.
Lindsay Czarniak, a SportsCenter anchor, said she is looking forward to the new studio because it will be “more conversational” with the viewers.
Anchors will be able to physically point out what they are talking about, and Czarniak said the new studios will “enhance the tools we already have to work with as anchors.”
Gross said Sports-Center is primarily focused on the content it brings its viewers, and the new digital center will not only enhance the content, but also the impact ESPN has on the community in Bristol, and worldwide.
“Fans have a tremendous attachment to this place,” Gross added.
Comments? Email knaples@BristolObserver. com.
By Kaitlyn Naples