A sidewalk destination

Will a new Comcast SportsNet studio save the struggling Houston Pavilions?

Will a new Comcast SportsNet studio save the struggling Houston Pavilions?

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Mayor Annise Parker addressed the crowd; the turquoise walls behind the podium will soon be windows into the television studio. Photo by Whitney Radley
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The group has begun work on plans to develop the first and second floors, making use of a 32,000 square foot space at the Houston Pavilions. Photo by Whitney Radley
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Comcast SportsNet Houston president and general manager Matt Hutchings hopes to create a better sports experience for fans in the city and throughout the region. Photo by Whitney Radley
News_Comcast_NBC Sports_Houston Pavilions_Mayor Annise Parker
News_Comcast_NBC Sports_Houston Pavilions_drawing
News_Comcast_NBC Sports_Houston Pavilions_Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker, always glad to be the bearer of good news, announced Houston's newest triumph at a windy press conference at the Houston Pavilions on Wednesday.

Parker hinted at a years-long battle against unnamed rival cities for this particular prize: A multi-million dollar television studio and production facility for Comcast SportsNet Houston, a partnership between the Houston Rockets, the Houston Astros and the NBC Sports Group, housed inside of the Pavilions.

 Parker admitted that the Pavilions hasn't lived up to original hopes, but says the real estate venture still has potential for future development.  

Beyond bringing more exposure to Houston's sports teams, from the high school level to the professional, the studio will create 125 media and technology jobs in downtown Houston. Incentives given by the Market Square Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #3 will be more than offset, says Parker, by a boost of business to downtown area shops and restaurants.

"We aren't shy about saying that downtown has unlimited growth potential," Parker said. She admitted the Pavilions hasn't lived up to original hopes, but says the real estate venture still has potential for future development — and the new two-story, 32,000 square foot studio will bring the struggling Pavilions nearer to full occupancy.

Matt Hutchings, Comcast SportsNet Houston president and general manager, says that the group wanted to return to the roots of regional sports coverage, with a "boots on the ground" approach for increased investment in the local community.

Just steps away from the light rail, and down the street from the George R. Brown as well as three nearby stadiums, the studio's street level viewing area is poised to become a destination in itself — akin to the sidewalks outside of NBC's Today Show at Rockefeller Center.

"We're going to continue to be aggressive and competitive in sports," Parker told the crowd, implying that the city will work just as hard behind closed doors to bring more sporting events to Houston as the players do on the court and the field.

Expect Houston sports fans to crowd outside the studio by fall 2012.