May 4, 2009

Don't mess with ESPN, officials warn lawmakers

A proposed tax plan offered by state lawmakers would cause the state to lose jobs and if it passes “we will lose large employers like ESPN,” according to Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele.

Fedele, a Republican, told party officials in Bristol recently that “ugly” spending cuts are needed to trim government and that “a no tax budget” is the best answer to Connecticut’s fiscal problems.

Mayor Art Ward, a Democrat, also took issue with the revenue measure approved by a legislative committee that would sock ESPN for millions of dollars.

That bill had the support of state Rep. Chris Wright, a freshman Democrat from Bristol’s 77th District.

The sections that would hike taxes for ESPN, Wright said, were part of “a larger overall package” that backed.

“I didn’t want to vote to kill the overall bill,” Wright said, even though he is “doing all I can to see what we can do about that part” of the measure before a final plan is approved.

"We are having constructive dialogue with state officials," Mike Soltys, an ESPN vice president, said Monday. But, he said, at this point "it's too early to tell" the outcome.

Wright said the focus has shifted to the appropriations panel and its work on reducing spending.

He said that if the spending side of the budget can be cut, then legislators can take another look at the revenue proposals included in the finance measure he supported.

Hopefully, Wright said, “we can take some of those provisions” that ESPN doesn’t like out of the bill before final passage.

Soltys said ESPN is unhappy about efforts to remove sales tax exemptions on broadcast equipment purchases that’s been in place since 1982.

Another proposal would end the tax waiver for purchase of time using satellite or fiber signals, a potentially costly change for the sports broadcast giant.

There are at least two other provisions in the bill that ESPN is pushing to have removed.

The large tax hikes sought by Democrats, Fedele said, “are unacceptable in these times. Companies do have options.”

The Greater Bristol Chamber of Commerce is also pushing to kill provisions in the proposed tax plan that would hurt ESPN.

The company, which is a division of Walt Disney Co., has said that it has invested more than $600 million in property and facilities in Connecticut in the last decade alone. It has also spent $700 million with Connecticut vendors in that period, Soltys has said.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

the proposed tax plan that would hurt ESPN


Welcome to Bristol ...... We TAXPAYERS have been getting the soiled end of the stick for ages .... It's about time the sport nuts got a taste .

cseguin said...

At a certain point you have to look out for your constituents and the cities you represent. ESPN is far too important to Bristol; uniquely important in a lot of ways, taking into account the size of the company and the size of Bristol.

Unless there's an overwhelmingly good reason to be supporting this plan, I'm not sure why Rep. Wright would risk alienating ESPN in this manner.

Anonymous said...

While I don't want Bristol to lose ESPN, when will we stop letting them hold us hostage??

If they paid in taxes what they actually should, Bristol would not have a deficit right now.

The average "little guy" doesn't get a tax break on property and sales taxes. I can see incentives to get a company in but they are well established to the tune of $600 Million!

Enough already.

Anonymous said...

To all the idiot democrats. If ESPN gets taxed to death - they will leave Bristol or most likely only have a very small shop in Bristol. Meaning the average tax payer will not be able to live in Bristol, because the Mill rate will be thru the roof!

Anonymous said...

Do you really think ESPN the biggest tax paying business in Bristol is not paying its fair share?!?!

Like the Lt Gov said, businesses do have options. If they leave where will that leave us?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chris Wright! If you don't know what your doing do the people of Bristol a favor and don't vote.

Anonymous said...

If ESPN were to leave completely, which it wouldn't, but lets just follow here, our taxes would increase by about 30% per taxpayer. ESPN's Bristol headquarters employs 3400, some of whom call Bristol home and most of whom spend time and money in the city.

Anyone who thinks they are getting away with not paying taxes or paying their share, put a sock in it! WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE JOB CREATION THAT ESPN PROVIDES! FIGURE IT OUT QUICK WRIGHT!

Anonymous said...

all us "LITTLE' people are getting nailed with taxes espn should pay alot. lord knows they can afford it. ward needs to stop being so afraid of them. yes i'm a republican and proud of it.

Anonymous said...

Ward kisses ESPN's butt too. If they leave on his watch - Ward is history. Heck he is history come November anyway.

scary said...

6:30 - admitting that you are a republican confirms the idiocy of your statements.
betcha the gop isn't even happy that you are on board.

Anonymous said...

Think long and hard about this one... if we lost ESPN what would it cost us in:

- jobs
- lost taxes
- taxes increases to cover the lost revenue
- property values

Who would replace them. Is it worth the risk.

Anonymous said...

8:31, Wanna bet?

Anonymous said...

9:19am - yep. Ward's not a boy scout or the night on the white horse.

Anonymous said...

10:19 - No one said he was, but he is a good mayor.

Anonymous said...

Good? That is a farce.

Anonymous said...

The fundamental problem is that the political system within both parties have let businesses get this way. Who is going to cut me the best deal? Whoever does, that's where I am going. Having said that, even if you think is holding the city of Bristol hostage gives back in the following ways:
3,000-3,500 employees. Some who spend money here in town, some who don't. For those that don't spend the money in town, why don't they? I think that answer is self explaining...there is nothing here to draw them to spend their money.
A lot own houses here so that is property tax to the city.
EVERYONE IN THE NATION IF NOT THE WORLD KNOWS ESPN IS IN BRISTOL!!!! Why the City has never really capitalized off that free advertising is beyond me.
Jobs which yield paychecks which yeild taxes to either Bristol or Southington.
Fair or not it is estimated that they make up roughly 7-9% of our gross tax base. If they do decided to leave the mil rate of this town is going to skyrocket.
People do come (not many) but none the less it is a draw, jsut to drive by the buildings and see what they look like.
So ultimately, what is the answer? Is it the voters fault over the years for allowing representatives to write laws liek this on the books? Is it the representatives looking for back door deals? In the most "utopian" of worlds, how can you blame business leaders/owners for looking for the best deals, if it comes at the expense of the taxpayer or not. What is their loyalty to the community when the bottom line is business and unfortunately that is free enterprise and capitalism. They do bring a lot to this city for as bad a rap as you think the taxpayer is catching, if they leave there will be tumbleweeds blowing in this town.

Anonymous said...

REALITY IS - ESPN will NOT leave Bristol because it is not financially feasible for them to do so at this point - Plus they need a unique location for the orientation of their numerous Sat Dishes. So if they incur extra expenses they will pass them on to their consumers as most businesses do. REALITY IS - Politics Sucks

Anonymous said...

I'm from Plynouth and always thought the smart people lived in Bristol. Guess they're just as dumb in Bristol as they are in Plymouth. One town wants to hassle the big tax-paying business, the other doesn't want to let any businesses in to start with.

Anonymous said...

If the morons in government (local and state ) keep spending $$ like a drunken sailor on shore leave after 9 moths @ sea , then espn being finally asked to pay tax is the least that should be done .

Don't want to have espn pay any taxes ? STOP wasting so much of our $$$ !!!

Anonymous said...

OMG, I can't believe some of these comments! Some people are so clueless!

ESPN is the best thing that ever happened to Bristol!! Period.

Allowing ESPN sales expemtions on broadcast equipment only encourages them to expand and create more jobs!!Duh, why would you take that incentive away!?!

Anonymous said...

Yes ESPN gets large tax breaks. But that's a VERY small price to pay for all of the tax money they still generate for Bristol and the state. Y While they may not pack up shop, they could definitely decide to stop expansion. I'm a Democrat and I think they the state's plan is ridiculous. All of us get hit with taxes but I guarantee those taxes will be a lot higher if ESPN leaves

Anonymous said...

Nice. Rep. Wright ready to kill the golden goose so he can gather all his new friends at the barbecue in order to dream up ways to spend the new money.