New broadcasting facility

Photo by Casey Gomez

Tech has proposed the conversion of a former Facilities Administration Building located just southwest of the McCamish Pavilion to a high-definition production facility to broadcast sports on ESPN’s Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Network sports programming.

If passed by the Board of the Regents, the Georgia Tech Athletic Association would fund the $10 million endeavor, which according to the agenda of the Board of Regents will include “control rooms, a small production studio, support spaces and staff offices.”

In order to create the space, the interior walls of the existing building would be demolished, and production equipment and infrastructure installed in its place. Additionally, fiber optic infrastructure would be routed between the facility and sports venues across campus.

According to the agenda of the Board of Regents, “completion of this project would allow [Tech] to meet the ACC’s requirement to have production facilities on-site and would allow for sharing of revenues generated from the ACC’s contract with ESPN.”

The ACC network is currently operated by Raycom Sports but will be discontinued in 2018-19 to allow for the creation of a cable channel of the same name. The rights that were sublicensed to Raycom will be reacquired by the conference so that the channel may be created.

The announcement of the cable channel for the ACC came in July of 2016 when ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced a twenty year renewal deal with ESPN that would give broadcasting rights through 2035–2036.

The channel itself is slated to be released by August of 2019 and will broadcast over 1,300 live events per year. In the meantime, the ACC’s digital channel has already launched and shows ACC sporting events annually.

The biggest news to come out of the 2016 decision, that is now affecting Tech and other ACC universities, is the fact that the grant of rights makes it extremely difficult financially for a team to leave the conference.

The conference’s grant of rights means that even if the teams leave the conference, the twenty year deal would still apply to them, meaning media rights and revenue for all home games would still go to the ACC. While the move may seem harsh, it is designed to keep the league stable, something that was not the case during realignment a few years ago.

Along with the channel, Swofford and the ACC plan to add two more games to the conference schedule for Men’s Basketball to increase the amount of available content.

The main decision behind the channel’s creation was twofold: money and catching up to other conferences. In 2015, the ACC paid its 14 football playing schools  around $3 million less than the SEC and Big Ten according to tax documents.

That money may be related to bigger sports, but the SEC and the Big Ten both have their own networks already.

Besides Tech, other schools have already taken the plunge into spending to meet the requirements set forth by the ACC.

NC State announced in 2016 that it would be spending $6 million to renovate part of its football headquarters into broadcast and production space.

Duke built the productions facilities it needed into the building including luxury suites next to its football field. The Blue Devils are estimated to have spent over $10 million on the production and broadcast facilities in the project.

Based on what other schools have done, it seems that Tech’s $10 million proposal next to McCamish Pavilion matches location and spending of other schools.