- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2011

HARTFORD, CONN. (AP) - NBC Sports has agreed to move from New York City to Stamford to take advantage of tax breaks, adding to a growing film and TV presence in the southwestern Connecticut city, a state official said Friday.

The agreement, which could bring hundreds of jobs, would be part of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s signature economic development program, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Malloy and Democratic leaders of the legislature hope to announce a deal next week.

Chris McCloskey, a spokesman for NBC Sports, and a spokeswoman for Malloy declined to comment.

Stamford made a strong play during the 1980s and `90s for 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.

“We have a real cluster and it’s growing,” said 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.

Segalla, a former New York resident, said he left the city reluctantly, but he does not regret it. He said the rail and highway access to Stamford makes it easier to reach from Manhattan than parts of some outer boroughs such as Queens.

“This is a real city. There’s diversity here. The arts are here,” he said.

Malloy, who was the mayor of Stamford before he was elected as governor last year, negotiated to bring NBC Sports to Connecticut as part of his “First Five” initiative, which is intended to consolidate various tax credits to draw the first five businesses that invest $25 million in Connecticut and create 200 jobs over five years.

So far, he has struck deals with ESPN, which is based in central Connecticut in Bristol, as well as insurer Cigna and the online ticket exchange TicketNetwork Inc. All three companies already operate in Connecticut, but Cigna agreed to move its headquarters from Philadelphia. 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.

The government official said details about the tax credits in the latest deal still have to be worked out between the legislature and NBC Sports.

A city of 117,000 people, Stamford breathed a sigh of relief in August when financial services giant UBS agreed to keep a minimum of 2,000 jobs at its Connecticut headquarters in exchange for $20 million in state loans over five years. UBS, which runs the world’s largest trading floor out of its Stamford facility, had been rumored to be exploring a return to New York City.

David Cadden, a business professor at Quinnipiac University, said Stamford has held appeal for executives who want to work closer to the suburbs where many of them live since an exodus from Manhattan in the 1970s.

“CEOs were tired of commuting. They wanted their headquarters in their backyards,” he said.

Stamford is now the largest international business center between New York City and Boston, according to Jack Condlin, president and CEO of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce. He said the recent growth in the film and television industry represents the natural growth of other businesses.

“The more diverse uses you get in a city the better,” he said.

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