Princell Hair and Mike St. Peter have been colleagues under the Comcast/NBC corporate umbrella for a while.
A year from now, they’ll be colleagues under the same roof, as well.
The two general managers were in a crowd of NBC employees and local dignitaries who gathered at a groundbreaking Thursday on B Street in Needham as construction got under way for a $125 million studio complex that will house NBC10 Boston, Telemundo Boston, and NECN (St. Peter’s stations) and NBC Sports Boston (Hair’s station) under one roof.
The project became public in March 2017, when Needham officials prepared a property tax break for the NBC project for Town Meeting approval. The 160,000-square-foot complex will be built on former General Dynamics property in what’s being called Founders Park, a.k.a. Needham Crossing, near the Newton-Needham line.
NBC Sports Boston was looking for new space and wanted to be closer to Boston than are its current digs in Burlington. Meanwhile, St. Peter’s group is crammed into a Wells Avenue office park in Newton, especially since NBC launched NBC10 in January 2017, creating an entirely new news team.
About 390 employees will make the move — 110 from the sports station in Burlington and 260 from the Newton group.
The two groups work together already; the shared address should encourage more collaboration.
Among those in attendance at Thursday’s ceremony:
Newton Needham Regional Chamber chief Greg Reibman; NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations president Valari Staab; Telemundo Station Group president Manuel Martinez; and Nam Pham, the state’s assistant secretary of business development.
“We have a lot of overlapping news and sports properties in other markets,” Hair says. “This will be the first market where all of those entities will be in the same facility.”
Texas entrepreneur scores a big Boston win
Mark Cuban sure knows how to pick ’em.
The Texas entrepreneur has just scored a big win with a small investment — small for a billionaire like him, anyway.
In 2014, the “Shark Tank” cohost invested $1.75 million in Rugged Events, a Boston-based race organizer, after an appearance on the reality TV show. Now, the Dallas Mavericks owner is cashing out — as the newspaper giant New Media Investment Group expands its empire to include marathons, half-marathons, and mud-caked obstacle races.
New Media, better known as GateHouse Media, has acquired an 80 percent stake in Rugged for $10.4 million; founders Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder will hold onto the rest. Cuban sold his entire stake, essentially doubling his investment.
This acquisition will buttress GateHouse’s fast-growing events management division. GateHouse is, in part, trying to offset advertising declines at its core newspaper business — a massive, nation-spanning group that includes major dailies in Worcester, Providence, Quincy, and several other New England cities.
The company also wants to build on its relationships with small businesses in its newspaper markets; event sponsorship remains a potential gold mine in that regard.
GateHouse executive Jason Taylor says its events and promotions business was on track to clear $40 million in revenue this year before the Rugged deal, up from under $1 million four years ago. These events, he says, represent a natural target for advertisers who want a spot at the registration tent, above the finish line, or in e-mails to racers.
For Dickens and Scudder, it’s largely business as usual for the 50-person company, which the two former lawyers formed about eight years ago. One big change: Dickens says they’ll use the new cash to accelerate the pace of race acquisitions. He says they bought the Loco races in New Hampshire last year and a Maine group earlier this year, bringing its total to nearly 60 events across North America, including its flagship Rugged Maniac series.
And now, they can try on the role of deep-pocketed investors, eyeing potential growth opportunities — just like the one that Cuban played.
Chambers of commerce speak out for a free press
It’s not just newspapers that are defending a free press from relentless attacks from our president and others. Plenty of chambers of commerce support the idea, too.
Greater Boston Chamber CEO Jim Rooney was inspired by The Boston Globe’s nationwide call for editorials on the theme last week, and by the Boston Business Journal’s follow-up editorial, suggesting the business community should take a stand, as well. So Rooney sent a note to chambers around Massachusetts — and then to counterparts across the country — asking them to voice their support on Twitter on Friday.
Roughly three dozen chambers heeded the call, including ones from big cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago.
Among those speaking out on Twitter individually was Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber and a former staffer in both Bush presidencies.
“Yes, many journalists have a liberal bias, but that doesn’t discount their critical role in our democracy,” he said.
New baseball venue to be christened Polar Park
While PawSox chairman Larry Lucchino was nailing down a deal for a new ballpark in Worcester, he was busy with another even more secretive series of negotiations with Polar Beverages for the naming rights for the new park.
Polar’s CEO, Ralph Crowley, says those talks culminated about two weeks ago. The stadium will be christened Polar Park when it opens in 2021.
Lucchino visited the soda company’s offices in Worcester often — and under the radar.
“You know what’s cool?,” Crowley said. “Nobody from the press figured out we were talking. Nobody from the city knew we were talking.”
In fact, the press materials that city officials distributed at the time of the Friday announcement didn’t specify Polar’s involvement.
Lucchino mentioned it only at the tail end of the event at Worcester City Hall, after thanking business leaders in Worcester for their commitment to the ballpark project.
Lucchino singled out Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Murray, Bowditch & Dewey chairman Mike Angelini, and Crowley.
“It’s an investment in our hometown, so we’re delighted to do it,” Ralph Crowley told reporters after the event, as the crowd cleared the room.
Neither Crowley nor his brother Chris Crowley, executive vice president at the family company, would say how much they’re spending for the naming rights. When a reporter asked Chris Crowley for a number, he responded, “a nice house.”
Some have speculated that the move to Worcester would mean the demise of Paws and Sox, the minor league team’s beloved polar bear mascots. But this Polar deal — yes, the soda company’s mascot is a polar bear, as well — just might keep Paws and Sox around, after all.