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ESPN IN THE ZONE: EXPANSION FUELED BY SUCCESS IN BALTIMORE
Published September 16, 1999
The latest ESPN Zone located in Times Square held its grand opening party on Tuesday night. Disney Chair Michael Eisner and Buena Vista Internet Group Chair Steve Bornstein were among those in attendance. Others celebrating (and feasting on fine food) during the opening of the four-level destination included Wayne Gretzky and his wife, Janet, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Martina Navratilova, Bill Russell, Jim Brown and the cast of "Spin City" (THE DAILY). A PROFIT CENTER: Walt Disney said that the ESPN Zone in Baltimore's Inner Harbor "has done twice the business expected" by drawing "more than 1 million visitors." Disney Regional Entertainment President Art Levitt said the success of the Baltimore ESPN Zone was "magic" and it "surprised us at every level." Levitt added if Baltimore "hadn't been as successful as it was, we wouldn't have proceeded" with expansion in Chicago and N.Y. While Disney "has declined to provide financial details," MA-based State Street Research and Management entertainment analyst Larry Haverty "predicted that the ESPN Zones will have revenue" of $100M a year "within five or 10 years" (Balt. SUN, 9/15).