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ESPN ZONE OPENS IN BALTIMORE AMID POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
Published July 13, 1998
The first ESPN Zone restaurant and entertainment complex officially opened to the public on Sunday in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. An invitation-only private gala was held Saturday. About 25,000 were expected to attend Sunday's outdoor festival, which included an evening parade and fireworks (Douglas Birch, Baltimore SUN, 7/12). WILL IT REACH THE PROFIT ZONE? In DC, Judith Evans wrote that ESPN Zone, which she described as "SportsCenter meets the Lion King," is "merely the latest sports-themed restaurant to enter a crowded field of players who are using sports with hopes of holding the attention of fans for longer than one visit." Amenities in the 35,000-square-foot restaurant and "interactive playground" include a 10,000- square-foot game arcade. ESPN Zone Dir of Marketing & Sales Scott Dickey: "We want our consumers to be able to experience our brand on a more regular basis." As the segment "gets hotter, companies may find picking the right location carries a hefty price tag." Disney "won't say" how much it has invested to build the ESPN Zone, but one analyst put the price tag at $20M (WASHINGTON POST, 7/11).