SBD/9/Events Attractions

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).

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