ESPN IN THE ZONE: EXPANSION FUELED BY SUCCESS IN BALTIMORE
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).