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ESPN ZONE OPENS IN BALTIMORE AMID POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE

          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).

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