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Conn. lends $20M in deal luring NBC Sports from NY

By Stephen Singer

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 25 2011 1:13 p.m. MDT

HARTFORD, Conn. — The state of Connecticut is providing NBC Sports a $20 million low-interest loan in a deal announced Tuesday that is expected to create 450 jobs there as the sports entertainment company moves much of its production out of New York.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the deal at a news conference in Stamford, calling it a "terrific project" for the city and the state. Malloy, who was mayor of the southwestern Connecticut city before being elected governor last year, said several NBC sports entities will move to Stamford beginning in September 2012.

The network is bringing NBC Olympics, NBC Sports Digital, VERSUS, which will be renamed the NBC Sports Network on Jan. 2, and the Comcast Sports Management Group, which oversees the NBC Sports Group's 14 regional networks. It will keep offices and some production in New York's Rockefeller Center.

Under terms of the deal, NBC will pay 1 percent interest on the loan. However, $10 million will be forgiven if NBC Sports creates 200 jobs at the end of two years, $5 million will be forgiven if 100 more jobs are created at the end of three years and $5 million will be wiped off the slate if another 150 jobs are created at the end of five years.

Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group, said the entertainment company is creating one 32-acre site, allowing it to build numerous studios and plan for growth. The move would not have been possible without the state's financial support, he said.

The deal is the largest jobs initiative announced by Malloy since he took office in January. Previous deals promised at least 200 jobs over five years at ESPN, 200 jobs in the next two years at insurer Cigna and at least 200 jobs and possibly up to 600 over 10 years at online ticket exchange TicketNetwork Inc.

Malloy's "First Five" initiative is intended to consolidate various tax credits to draw the first five businesses that either create 200 jobs over two years or invest $25 million in Connecticut and create 200 jobs over five years. NBC is the fourth company to commit to create jobs and the first out-of-state business to move to Connecticut.

Malloy said in August when the ESPN deal was announced that negotiating to bring companies from outside Connecticut is more complicated because office and manufacturing space must be acquired. NBC Sports is moving to a site once occupied by hair care products maker Clairol.

The governor said in announcing the deal that it will have a positive impact on the local economy.

Kevin Segalla, chief executive of the Connecticut Film Center, a Stamford company that provides production and financial services and facilities for the film and TV industries, has said film producers use an average of 150 local businesses such as construction supplies, electricians and restaurants.

Beginning in the 1980s and '90s, Stamford drew financial services companies that do business in New York City, just 35 miles away. More recently, it has branched out into entertainment, luring production companies with lower taxes and more space than producers can find in New York. In 2009, Maury Povich's "Maury" left New York for Stamford, joined by two other NBC Universal properties, "The Jerry Springer Show" and "The Steve Wilkos Show," which relocated from Chicago.

The city also has become home to the headquarters of WWE and the sports network Versus.

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