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Focus Shift At ESPN Puts Plans In Doubt

By Greg Bordonaro

May 17, 2010

The outlook for the long-discussed ESPN presence in the Front Street entertainment project remains cloudy.

ESPN at one time said it envisioned a shop retailing sports apparel and memorabilia — but not one of its ESPN Zone restaurants — for Front Street.

But Mike Soltys, a spokesman for the Bristol-based sports conglomerate, said the company has been focusing less on its retail business.

Over the past year, for example ESPN has closed Denver and Atlanta ESPN Zones and scaled back dramatically on its consumer products line.

In announcing the closings, Rick Alessandri, senior vice president of ESPN, told reporters “A decision like this is never easy...Unfortunately, the current economic environment gave us no other choice.”

“Since we made our commitment (to Front Street) 11 years ago, both the project and our business have changed substantially,” Soltys said in a written statement. “But, we continue to have discussions with the developer and state to see if we can find a role in the development.”

Peter Christian, an official with developer HB Nitkin Group, said ESPN has always been committed to the project but he’s not sure what type of presence the sports powerhouse may have.

“We have to wait and see how some of the leasing goes,” he said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Business Journal. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Business Journal Archives at http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/archives.php.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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