Behind The Scenes

Highlights heaven: See where ESPN houses its 2 million tape library

ESPN often explores its vaults to retrieve vintage footage for SportsCenter and myriad other programs and associated networks.

We have to store all that footage somewhere. In the photo gallery below, you can take a tour of the 2 million — that’s right, million — tape library that our Media Technologies group oversees.

The facility’s proper name: the ESPN North Campus Library Warehouse, a 70,000-square foot sports wonderland.

In the photos above, I’ve tried to capture how vast and intricate the tape vault is. Want to see the very first SportsCenter? We’ve got it here. Need a highlight from a Houston Gamblers-Arizona Wranglers USFL game from the 1980s? It’s coming right up.

Our Media Technologies group has all kinds of media, cassettes, VHS, BETA, Digi_BETA, one-inch reels. All are handled carefully by passionate, organized people — with the assist of a few robots.

Ken Boudreau and Jason Guidone of Media Technologies helped me wrangle some fun facts to accompany the photos above of our largest archive.

Your DVR has nothing on this:

  • Approximately 2 million tapes are maintained by ESPN’s Media Technologies department
  • The tape archives has approximately 300,000 feet of shelving in its three archive locations
  • ESPN’s North Campus Library warehouse is approximately 70,000 square feet. (For comparison: Josten’s Arena at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando is also 70,000 sq. ft.)
  • The ESPN warehouse team recycles on average about 5,000 tapes monthly
  • ESPN maintains legal logs in its media archives for seven years
  • There are approximately 25 different types of media in the archive

Tape Library – Images by ESPN


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