Times Square sets stage for ABC, ESPN

NEW YORK — ABC on Thursday confirmed plans to lease space in a Times Square office building, to be used as a new street-level home for “Good Morning America” and a flagship ESPN Grill restaurant and studio.

The Alphabet web will take 75,000 square feet on five floors at 1500 Broadway, between 43rd and 44th streets, with plans to move “GMA” from its West 66th Street studio by fall 1999 (Daily Variety, Nov. 20).

But ABC is also eyeing additional uses for the studio and control room, with the potential for election-night coverage, Ted Koppel-hosted “town meetings” and ABC Sports studio hosts to emanate from the site. “There’s an absolute effort to think of other uses for that space,” a spokeswoman said. She declined to comment on the lease’s value.

The ESPN restaurant would become the flagship in a new chain that already plans sites in Chicago and Baltimore, and would take nearly half the total space. The cost of the long-term lease couldn’t be determined.

CBS also is surveying a potential 42nd Street site for “This Morning,” its own ayem news show. Both are responding to NBC’s “Today,” whose success is credited in part to a street-level Rockefeller Center space that attracts hundreds of gawkers daily.

ABC’s expansion marks the latest chapter in parent Walt Disney Co.’s major presence in the revitalized district. Disney just opened a stage version of “The Lion King” at the refurbished New Amsterdam Theater nearby, next door to a large Disney studio retail store.

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