NBC Sports Group last week made it official, settling on Stamford for a new production studio that will employ 450 people while creating a production center as well for the NHL Network.
With plans to occupy the former Clairol site in Stamford, NBC Sports did not state its immediate plans for a studio used by its Versus sports network in downtown Stamford, with Versus soon to adopt the NBC Sports name.
The Clairol site was acquired last year by three investors who quickly won a commitment from Chelsea Piers to create a sports and entertainment complex there while reserving space for a planned TV studio. The property’s ownership syndicate, which includes Kevin Segalla of the Stamford-based Connecticut Film Center, had not previously suggested the property would accommodate a tenant with the size and prestige of NBC Sports.
Fairfield-based General Electric Co. divested a controlling stake in what is now called NBC Universal Media this year to Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. NBC currently tapes three daytime talk shows in Stamford, taking advantage of tax credits offered by Connecticut for TV production work.
NBC Sports has its headquarters in the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City. The building is owned by Tishman Speyer Properties, which also owns 777 Long Ridge Road in Stamford and Greenwich American Centre in Greenwich. The latter property is home to the digital animation film studio Blue Sky Studios, which is adding more than 40,000 square feet of space.
Last May, Comcast named Mark Lazarus chairman of NBC Sports Group, replacing the industry legend Dick Ebersol. Before joining Comcast in 2010, Lazarus had previously led Turner Sports and later its corporate parent Turner Entertainment Group; reportedly after leaving Turner, he moved to Connecticut. Lazarus is also a director for Compass Diversified Holdings, a Westport-based company that buys and sells operating companies.
His brother Craig Lazarus is an ESPN lifer, currently vice president of news. The brothers grew up in Chappaqua, N.Y., with their father a sales executive for ABC Sports.
Of NBC Sports’ other senior-most executives, the only other two listing Fairfield County residences are John Miller of Westport, who leads NBC Sports’ in-house sports agency business, and Perkins Miller, a Wilton resident who is senior vice president of digital media. Four of the 12 top executives at NBC Sports live in New Jersey, and another two have homes in Westchester.
The NBC Sports expansion in Stamford essentially cements Connecticut’s status as “the worldwide leader in sports” programming, to borrow ESPN’s tag line. Despite Fairfield County’s proximity to talent in New York City, the Walt Disney Co. subsidiary has never expanded here, including this past summer after ESPN became the third company to take incentives under Malloy’s First Five program in exchange for adding more than 200 jobs for a planned digital center at its Bristol headquarters totaling nearly 200,000 square feet of space. That project is expected to cost $100 million.