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Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex

 

Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Entrance to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, 2010
Location Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, U.S.
Coordinates

28°20′13.5″N 81°33′21.6″W / 28.337083°N 81.556000°W / 28.337083; -81.556000Coordinates: 28°20′13.5″N 81°33′21.6″W / 28.337083°N 81.556000°W / 28.337083; -81.556000

Theme Sports Complex
Owner ESPN Inc. (The Walt Disney Company/Hearst Corporation)
Operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
Opened March 28, 1997[1]
Website ESPN Wide World of Sports Homepage

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is a 220 acres (89 ha) athletic complex located in the Walt Disney World Resort. The complex includes 9 venues and hosts numerous amateur and professional sporting events throughout the year. It was known as Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex before it was re-branded with the Disney-owned ESPN brand. The rebranding was unveiled on February 25, 2010.

History

Disney built the US$100 million facility on former wetlands[2] that it owned near Interstate 4. The venue opened on March 1997 with an exhibition baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds.

On May 13, 2008, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to rebrand Disney's Wide World of Sports using the ESPN brand.[3]

On November 5, 2009, Disney announced that the complex would be renamed "ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex". The rebranding was officially unveiled during Disney's ESPN the Weekend festivities.[4] The complex received a massive upgrade including the installation of HD video scoreboards at several of the venues, a new complex-wide audio system and an HD broadcast production facility.[5]

Admission

The current admission price for ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is $14.50 for adults and $10.00 for children ages 3–9. Some events, particularly those at Champion Stadium, HP Field House and Jostens Center, may require higher ticket fees, but still permit entry to the complex as a whole. A ticket is required to eat at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. The Clubhouse Gift Shop can be accessed without paying for entry to the complex.

Venues

Champion Stadium

Main article: Champion Stadium

A 9,500 seat baseball stadium built in 1997. One of the original components of Wide World of Sports, it was formerly known as Cracker Jack Stadium and The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports. It is the spring training home of the Atlanta Braves and the recurring home for the Gulf Coast Braves. The stadium has hosted two regular season Major League Baseball series in 2007 and 2008 featuring the Tampa Bay Rays as the home team. It is sponsored by Hanes with their Champion brand.

HP Field House

A 5,000-seat multi-purpose arena, formerly the Milk House, sponsored by Hewlett Packard. It hosts the Old Spice Classic annually. The HP Field House has 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) with stadium style seating with the highest row 35 feet (11 m) off the floor. It also features a smaller gymnasium behind the main arena with retractable seating. It was formerly sponsored by the California Milk Processor Board, progenitors of the famous Got Milk? campaign.[6]

Jostens Center

Main article: Jostens Center

First announced in March 2007, the complex's 10th anniversary year, the Jostens Center is a 44,800-square-foot (4,160 m2) arena (36% smaller than the HP Field House without the stadium seating) that opened in the fall of 2008.[7] Sponsored by the class-ring manufacturer, the center will feature six college-size basketball courts, twelve volleyball courts or two roller hockey rinks. Its seating capacity is 1,200. The Jostens Center is not intended to replace the HP Field House, which will remain open for major indoor events.[8]

Hess Sports Fields

Presented by Hess Corporation, these eight multi-purpose fields can host a number of different sports. Two fields are equipped for night play, and four are made to international soccer dimensions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers conducted training camp at the facility from 2002-2008.

One of the fields has 500 permanent seats, and another has 1,000 permanent seats, expandable to up to 3,000 with additional grandstands. Field 17, the field with the larger grandstands, hosts the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic, an annual eight-team preseason soccer tournament featuring Major League Soccer teams.

Baseball Quadraplex

Consisting of four professional baseball fields and one practice infield, the quadrapelex also includes batting tunnels, pitching mounds, hitting tunnels, masters pitching machines, and ten bullpens. Two fields are equipped for night play.

Softball Diamondplex

The first venue to be completed at the facility, it consists of six fields used for softball and youth baseball. Organized with four fields in circle and two adjacent.

Centre Court Stadium

A 1,000 to 8,500 seat ten-court tennis complex.

Cross Country Course

Consists of multi-purpose fields, the Track and Field Complex, and a 0.7-mile (1.1 km) wooded trail.

Track and Field Complex

A 500-seat competition facility for track and field events, designed to International Association of Athletics Federations specifications.

Other facilities

Water fountains are available throughout the complex. ATMs are located by the box office at the main entrance, and in Champion Stadium and the HP Field House. Free Wi-Fi internet access is available at several locations throughout the complex.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill

Originally an Official All Star Café, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill is open during most events usually from 10am to 8pm, and is available for reservation for other functions during off-hours times. Its first special event was the 10th anniversary shows of the ESPN Radio program Mike and Mike in the Morning, with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, on the mornings of February 24–26, 2010 as part of the complex's grand opening and ESPN the Weekend.

It was the last Official All Star Café to remain open, and was de-branded in 2007. It operated as a generic restaurant until it was re-opened under the ESPN brand in 2010.

Also located at the ESPN Grill is the PlayStation Pavilion, with several PlayStation 3 consoles with the latest sports games. Originally provided free of charge, it now charges $5 per 30 minutes.

Gift Shop

In addition to gift shops in Champion Stadium and the HP Field House, there is a permanent gift shop open daily beside the box office in the same building as Champion Stadium. Admission is not required to shop in the main gift shop.

ESPN Innovation Lab

The ESPN Innovation Lab, a facility dedicated to advancing sports television technology, opened on October 15, 2009, as part of the ESPN rebranding and renovation process.[9]

Expansion

Disney announced plans to construct a 160,000 square foot 100-lane bowling stadium, which would be the largest in the country. It will offer stadium-style seating, a restaurant and would be completed in early 2014. The stadium would be used for events or open to guests. It would also be used as a venue to host the United States Bowling Congress tournaments.[10]

Controversy

A former baseball umpire and an architect alleged that they approached the Walt Disney Company in 1987 with plans for a sports complex, and that Wide World of Sports, which opened 10 years later, was heavily based on their designs. Disney claimed that, while the designs had some similarities, the complex was also similar to numerous other sporting facilities, and the concept of a sports park was too generic for any one group to claim ownership. The two men, represented in part by noted attorney Johnnie Cochran, sued Disney in Orange County civil court. In August 2000, a jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs with damages in the amount of $240 million, a fraction of the $1.5 billion sought.[11] Disney appealed the judgment, and settled out of court in September 2002 for undisclosed terms.[12]

References

External links

  • Official website

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