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  • IN THE ZONE: BALTIMORE SUN EXAMINES ESPN'S RESTAURANT FORAY

              The first ESPN Zone restaurant, which opens in
         Baltimore this summer, was previewed by June Arnay in the
         Baltimore SUN.  Disney execs said they chose Baltimore as
         the inaugural site for their concept because it is an
         "enthusiastic sports town," and the fact that its location
         is "near two stadiums and a thriving waterfront."  The
         restaurant will be a 35,000 square-foot complex with two
         levels, "built to feel like a stadium," with a 550-person
         capacity.  Customers can dine in the bar/restaurant, watch
         sporting events in a special screening room, or play "actual
         and virtual games in a 10,000 square foot arena" (SUN, 3/8).
              INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO: Arnay called theme restaurants a
         "big investment" and wrote that an analyst who follows
         Disney "projects the cost" of the initial ESPN Zone at
         between" $10M and $15M.  While an ESPN Club which opened in
         Orlando in '96 "was not a blockbuster success," Disney is
         "quick to point out" that the Orlando venue, at 13,000
         square feet, was "very different in scale and clientele,"
         and that despite its "shortcomings," it "did show that
         combining an ESPN brand with Disney entertainment experience
         could draw crowds."  Disney is "banking on" the everchanging
         nature of the sports world to keep the Zone "unique" and
         will hold 20-minute briefings for staff members before each
         shift, "so that everyone from the sous chef to the bartender
         knows what's going on in the world of sports" (SUN, 3/7).
    
    

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Events and Attractions, Walt Disney
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