City of Bristol reacts to ESPN cuts

BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) — 300 positions cut from ESPN nationwide, and two-thirds of those are right here in Connecticut. The Bristol based sports giant announced the layoffs on Wednesday.

Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne said he had a heads up the cuts were on the way. Executives from the company keep in regular contact with the city.

“ESPN has resources of none other. They’re going to bring in some out, outplace benefits managers to help the employees find more employment. Of course we’re hoping that the employment stays here in Bristol,” said Mayor Cockayne.

But what do the cuts mean for the city? At Luiza’s Diner across the street from ESPN’s main campus, owner Avdulla Zhuta says he’s been in business for 11 years and ESPN employees have become part of their family.

“I’ve got a lot of friends that work over at ESPN. We got a lot of customers that come here. So, when it’s a layoff from ESPN, of course it hurts us a lot,” said Zhuta.

Zhuta says ESPN employees often come for breakfast and stop by their bar after work. He said ESPN is one of the reasons he opened up in that location.

“That’s the only reason I chose this spot, because of ESPN and Lake Compounce,” said Zhuta.

James Albert, with the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce said he doesn’t think the ESPN cuts will hurt the city or businesses too much. But, he’s concerned the fallout could extend to other areas of the community if ESPN is trying to find additional ways to save money.

“I’m sure there will be other impacts of their business decisions and their strategic decisions around other spending, whether it be philanthropic, or supplies, or catering events,” said Albert.

Mayor Cockayne says the layoffs aren’t a reflection on the city’s economy, and says things in Bristol are moving forward.

“Our housing values have increase 2.29 percent. We have a community of about 62,000 people and it’s a great city and we’re feeling good. We’ve got businesses coming in,” said Mayor Cockayne.

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