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ESPN to increase network of local sports sites

Looking to interact with sports fans more closely and expand its brand into local markets, ESPN will roll out three more city-specific sports sites in the months ahead, with Dallas, Los Angeles and New York joining is slated to launch this fall, followed by and in the first half of 2010.

Like, each site will feature an integrated home for ESPN’s news and information, online video and digital audio from the ESPN Radio station in each market, giving local fans a destination for their sports on-air, online, on-site and on mobile devices. The move could mean intense competition for local newspapers covering sports, including the high school beat.

Each site will also have its own short-form “SportsCenter,” hosted by anchors and providing an original three- to six-minute roundup of the city’s sports news, teams and figures each day. The sites also will feature online radio and podcasts, online video (including highlights, news, analysis and original content from ESPN programs), real-time scores, game casts and video highlights. In addition, content from the sites will be available on mobile devices on a subscription basis.

ESPN also said it will continue to expand the network to more cities in the future, though no specific plans are in place. ESPN’s Digital Media, Radio and Television Production divisions will collaborate to build and support the new sites, as it now does with

In less than three months, has become one of the top sports sites for Chicago fans. In June, logged 1.4 million total minutes of time spent on the site from nearly 600,000 unique visitors, up 112 percent and 57 percent, respectively, compared to May, according to comScore.

The four new local sites complement the network of affiliate sites, now totaling 20, including those in Washington, D.C., Denver, Milwaukee and Cleveland.