ESPN's Scott Van Pelt Moving Nightly Show From Bristol To DC
Scott Van Pelt’s midnight “SportsCenter” will move to the host’s hometown of DC in August. Van Pelt, who grew up in nearby Montgomery County, Md., will host the show from the same studio that houses “PTI.” The show will continue to be produced from ESPN’s Bristol HQ, though a handful of staffers will relocate to DC. ESPN says nobody is losing their job as a result of this move, as DC will become the third town to host a regular “SportsCenter,” joining Bristol and L.A. “I’m proud of where I’m from,” said Van Pelt, who went to the Univ. of Maryland. “Long after I’m not the guy from ESPN, I will always be the guy from Maryland. That’s who I am.” Van Pelt came up with the idea to move back to the DC area in May when he attended the Sports Emmys award ceremony in N.Y. At the event, he spoke with Eric Rydholm, who oversees “PTI,” which won an award for outstanding studio show at the event. “I literally was sitting in that theater thinking, why couldn’t I do my show from the same studio,” Van Pelt said. The next day he called “PTI” producers and show host Tony Kornheiser to see if there would be enough space. When he found a positive reaction, he called his agent Sandy Montag to get the ball moving. After months of meetings with senior personnel like ESPN Exec VP/Content Connor Schell, Exec VP, Event and Studio Production & Exec Editor Norby Williamson and President Jimmy Pitaro, Van Pelt got the green light he wanted.
HOMECOMING PARTY: Van Pelt said he wanted to move back to be closer to his aunt and mother, who turns 80 this summer. Van Pelt left the DC area 25 years ago to be part of Golf Channel’s launch and has not returned permanently since, though he does vacation on the Delaware shore. “It’s home,” he said. “It’s my friends. It’s the Terps. It’s just where I’m from. I never imagined that there would be a path back there because I work at ESPN and I’m content here.” Van Pelt insisted that the essence of his show would not change despite the move, though he did allow that some changes will occur. “Let’s say Steph Curry and Steve Kerr are in town to play the Wizards,” he said. “They’re not in Bristol a lot. But they come to DC. Maybe we can carve out 15 minutes with players of that ilk. The chance to be face-to-face with those athletes might happen more.” Van Pelt is looking into another change that would put a proper DC stamp on his show. “I’m reaching out to Trouble Funk,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out how we can get a Go-Go version of the ‘SportsCenter’ theme. I want to have that in the bag of tricks. I want to be able to come back from commercial and have Go-Go music playing. That will say to anyone who understands that we’re back in the District.”