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Golf Lifestyle Network Leasing Studio Space In Hartford

By Kenneth R. Gosselin

July 23, 2012

Broadcasting is returning to Constitution Plaza and downtown Hartford.

Back 9 Network, the start-up golf lifestyle network, is finalizing a 10-year lease for 10 Constitution Plaza, and it will invest nearly $8 million to outfit the former restaurant space in studio for its debut broadcast early next year, James Bosworth, the network’s founder and chief executive, told me today.

Downtown Hartford hasn’t had a broadcast operation since late 2009 when FOXCT moved out of the 20 Church St. tower to consolidate operations at The Courant on Broad Street.

WFSB-TV, Channel 3 moved from Constitution Plaza to Rocky Hill in 2007.

The nearly 7,000-square-foot, one-story space at 10 Constitution Plaza was the longtime location of Spris restaurant. Recent plans by Braza to open there did not materialize when the local eatery closed abruptly early this year.

The space has been used as a studio in the past. Gayle King broadcast a short-lived, nationally syndicated daytime talk show from 10 Constitution Plaza in the late 1990s.

Read more about Back 9 here.

Back 9 has been in development for about two years. The company did look elsewhere including Scottsdale, Ariz., northern California and Detroit, according to Bosworth.

But the heavy concentration of sports media in Connecticut — ESPN, NBC Sports and the YES Network — made Connecticut the logical choice. The state also has a broad range of small companies specializing in the various aspects of broadcast production, and Back 9 can tap into ESPN-trained personnel who want to work at a start-up network, Bosworth said.

“Connecticut is the sports media capital of the world,” Bosworth says, ebulliently.

The state also was encouraging, he said, offering a $1.1 million package of low-interest loans and grants, plus production and other tax credits.

Back 9 considered locations in CityPlace I and 20 Church Street, but the high ceilings needed for lighting sets tipped in favor of Constitution Plaza, Bosworth told me. It also considered Front Street.

The renovations at Constitution Plaza are expected to begin next month. Back 9 expects to keep its current space at 30 Lewis St. in downtown Hartford for its corporate headquarters, Bosworth said.

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