What launched with a single cable network on Sept. 7, 1979, is now ESPN, Inc., the leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring the broadest portfolio of multimedia sports assets, including six domestic networks, 46 international networks and more than 50 business entities. Today, ESPN delivers sports programming to more than 200 countries and territories on all seven continents across a variety of platforms – television, wireless, interactive, print, radio, broadband, event management and consumer products – all with the hopes of fulfilling its original mission of serving sports fans.
In 1996, The Walt Disney Company, under CEO Michael Eisner, acquired Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., which included 80 percent of ESPN. In 2005, Robert Iger was named CEO of The Walt Disney Co. – after serving as president and COO since 2000 – and continues to oversee ESPN today. In one momentous deal, Disney and ESPN changed the entire landscape of sports and entertainment, combining the sport expertise of ESPN with the creativity and the guest-experience capabilities of Disney.
A Field of Dreams Fully Realized
Today, the newly renamed ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort represents the perfect intersection of sports and entertainment – Disney’s sports complex as the leading multi-sport venue in the nation combining with ESPN’s stature as the preeminent sports entertainment media outlet in the world.
The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex marks the latest collaboration between the two powerful brands. The two companies have worked together successfully in the past on such events as the X Games Trials, the Old Spice Classic NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and ESPN RISE Games. Most notably, ESPN and Walt Disney World Resort together stage ESPN The Weekend, the sports-themed special event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that has been a virtual “Who’s Who” of celebrity athletes and personalities. In all, ESPN televises dozens of events from Walt Disney World Resort each year.
ESPN Designates ESPN WWoS Complex Official 3D Development Center
Recognizing the need for a real-world testing ground to continue the development of ESPN 3D, ESPN has designated the ESPN Innovation Lab at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as the hub for developing 3D technology. ESPN will invite various technology companies to utilize the site for emerging technology enhancements focused on 3D television. In addition to the resources at the Innovation Lab, ESPN will bring online a new production center that can be used for producing live sporting events for multiple ESPN platforms.
The Innovation Lab and the new Production Center based at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex gives ESPN a designated testing ground to continue creating a robust ESPN 3D network. This complex provides ESPN access to more than 300 sporting events which means 3D production testing can occur throughout the year. The research ESPN gathers through these facilities will set the pace for innovation and provide fans the best 3D on-air coverage of sporting events.
Chuck Pagano, executive vice president, technology, ESPN
The new Production Center will also serve as a training facility for production personnel to gain experience in telecasting 3D events. This facility houses eight edit rooms which will feed highlights into the main server system based in Bristol, Conn. Also, the Production Center controls 42 robotic cameras scattered throughout the complex which will capture highlights from the various playing venues. The facility also has 10 ENG cameras and four EFP cameras. The production control room has 16 channels of bi-directional video along with audio ingest, play-out capabilities, graphics building and more.
ESPN’s Innovation Lab opened in October 2009. It has produced two innovative production elements, Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom. Ball Track is a Doppler radar hit-tracking system that has the ability to track home runs showing the distance and height of the ball in-flight, updating continuously during the ball’s flight. It debuted on the 2009 MLB Home Run Derby telecast on July 13. ESPN Snap Zoom debuted on Monday Night Football on Sept. 28 and is a freeze-frame technology that brings the fan closer to the play by zooming in an area of interest and providing insight to a current action on the field thus giving the viewer a different view on a particular focus of play.
ESPN 3D, the industry’s first 3D television network, will showcase a minimum of 85 live sporting events during its first year, beginning with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match on June 11 featuring South Africa vs. Mexico. Other events to be produced in 3D include up to 25 2010 FIFA World Cup matches, NBA, X Games 16, college basketball and college football, which will include the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Ariz., Jan. 10, 2011. Additional events will be announced at a later date.
About ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 300 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the United States, accommodating 60 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries. Designed to take youth sports to the next level, the 220-acre facility features: The Fieldhouse, a 165,000-square-foot field house which seats 5,500 for basketball; Champion Stadium ballpark (cap. 11,500); Hess Sports Fields, which include multiple baseball, softball and soccer fields; Jostens Center, an 80,000-square-foot multi-sport fieldhouse; and Innovation Lab, a real-world testing ground for the ESPN Emerging Technology group to develop ground-breaking on-air products like Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom. In addition, the complex features 56 high-definition cameras (42 robotic, 10 handheld and four studio) and 40 high-definition video screens, including three jumbo screens, that can capture and display footage from any event taking place at the complex. The camera and video screens, as well as a 20-zone audio system, are controlled through a state-of-the-art Production Center that features eight edit bays and links to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., New York and Los Angeles. Follow Disney Sports on Twitter at @DisneySports.
ESPN WWoS Complex Expands Diversity of Events in 2010
Already distinguished for its unparalleled diversity of sport, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex has added an even wider variety of events in 2010 and beyond, highlighted by the debut of its first-ever Major League Gaming Pro Circuit tournament and the expansion of events that are part of the ESPN RISE Games. New and expanded events range from traditional sports (baseball, softball and soccer) to up-and-coming sports (lacrosse and rugby) to non-traditional sports (Major League Gaming and VEX Robotics).
The ESPN RISE Games in July is expected to expand considerably, with more than triple the number of athletes from last year. In its second year, the event includes seven sports, with new events involving AAU basketball, U.S. Lacrosse and USSSA softball.
This year, the complex will serve as a 2010 tournament stop on the Major League Gaming Pro Circuit, bringing together the nation’s top professional and amateur video gamers for a three-day competition at the complex. In all, the tournament plans to attract more than 250 teams, comprised of nearly 2,500 gamers, with competitors facing off in a variety of popular games. Major League Gaming is the largest professional video game league in the world, targeting the approximately 40 million North American consumers who have a passion for playing video games as a competitive social activity.
The famed Harlem Globetrotters returned to the facility for a special performance on Feb. 25 as part of the official re-launch of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The clown princes of basketball played the Washington Generals in a special performance featuring sports celebrities, ESPN personalities and Disney characters, in a game that aired on ESPN2 on Feb. 26. The Globetrotters have entertained fans around the world for more than 84 seasons and have won more than 23,000 games.
Capitalizing on the excitement of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Walt Disney World Resort will host viewing parties across the resort, including at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, for guests looking to follow the action of their favorite countries while on vacation.
There are also a number of other traditional, up-and-coming and non-traditional sports events taking place at the complex:
Varsity Brands has extended its relationship with Walt Disney World Resort through 2014 and will look to add to its list of national cheerleading championships and events that currently includesthe College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship, theNational High School Cheerleading Championship, the National All Star Cheerleading Championship, the National Dance Team Championships and the Cheerleading and Dance Worlds Championship. These championships are broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2 to more than 90 million homes each year. More than 40,000 cheerleaders and 80,000 fans attend these events annually.
Those events join several other recently announced events such as the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, Oct. 1-2, which culminates with a 13.1-mile nighttime race and after-hours party inside the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. And the inaugural Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic (Feb. 25 and 27), a four-team exhibition event featuring two-time MLS Cup Champion Houston Dynamo, the New York Red Bulls, who reached 2008 MLS Cup Final, FC Dallasand Toronto FC.
USSSA, a longstanding partner of the complex, has expanded its event offerings to include a new 64-team elite baseball national championship, and two additional girls fast pitch softball national championships. Additionally, the USSSA Pride, a pro women’s softball team, will be playing two four-game homestands at the complex in the summer of 2010.
Another new event is the Rawlings Gold Glove baseball tournament, an invitational tournament with players (ages 10-18) from around the country, scheduled for fall 2010.
Pop Warner Little Scholars, the parent organization of the Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheerleader Championships, has expanded its event lineup to include Pop Warner-branded flag football tournaments.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will be hosting the NIKE Football Combines, providing SPARQ testing to thousands of high school athletes wanting to measure and track their athletic capabilities.
The national governing bodies (NGB) for USA wrestling, judo, gymnastics, fencing and lacrosse have extended their relationships with ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and will host several new and expanded events between 2010 and 2013.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) has extended its involvement through 2014, with the complex hosting the 2011 MAAC Men’s Soccer Championships, the 2012 MAAC Cross Country Championships, the 2013 MAAC Women’s Soccer Championships and the 2014 MAAC Volleyball Championships. The MAAC has hosted conference championships at Walt Disney World Resort since 1998.
In September, the complex will host the Touch Rugby USA Nationals, an international rugby tournament with limited physical contact. The event features some of the best adult touch rugby athletes from around the world.
Disney’s Soccer Showcase, which features the top youth soccer players in the nation, will add a fourth college showcase tournament to its popular lineup of events in the summer of 2010.
AAU is expanding its national championship events at the complex with the addition of three more girls’ basketball championships and showcase tournaments, and the addition of a boys and girls national cross country championship in December.
The high school and college spring training program, presented by Champion, at the sports complex, which involves baseball, softball, lacrosse and track & field teams from around the country training at the sports complex, will expand to include golf this year.
A volleyball summer camp in June, hosted by Kaylee Scholarship Association, will become the first-ever high school team camp offering.
In November, the VEX Robotics competition returns for the annual VEX Robotics All-Star Challenge Tournament. The Vex Robotics Competition, the largest secondary school robotics program in the world with more than 2,500 teams in 20 countries, features middle school and high school teams competing against each other with their student-built robots in a game that tests their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.
The Iron Kids Triathlon has been added to the Iron Man 70.3 Florida Triathlon Weekend, held at Walt Disney World Resort. Similar to the Iron Man event, the Iron Kids Triathlon involves swimming, biking and running.
New and Expanded Events for 2010 and Beyond
- ESPN RISE Games
- Major League Gaming
- Harlem Globetrotters
- Major League Soccer
- FIFA World Cup Viewing
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
- Rawlings Gold Glove Baseball Tournament
- Pop Warner Flag Football
- Varsity Brands
- AAU Girls Basketball Championships and Showcase
- Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships
- USSSA Baseball and Softball
- VEX Robotics
- Touch Rugby USA Nationals
- Kaylee Scholarship Association Volleyball Summer Camp
- Iron Kids Triathlon
- New Events Tied to National Governing Bodies for Wrestling, Judo, Gymnastics, Fencing and Lacrosse
- Disney Soccer Showcase
- Disney High School Spring Training Program
ESPN WWoS Complex Key Annual Sporting Events
The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is home to more than 300 events each year, accommodating 60 different sports, and drawing athletes from more than 70 countries. Competitors range from the young to the old, from the amateur and highly skilled to the Special Olympian and the weekend warrior. Below are a handful of signature events:
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by CIGNA (January)
The Walt Disney World Marathon began in 1994 and takes runners along a magical 26.2-mile journey through all four Disney theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom). Known as one of the top family-destination races, marathon weekend attracts more than 55,000 runners and their families (more than 100,000 people total) to enjoy the weekend’s activities – Kids Races, a Family 5K, half marathon, marathon and Health & Fitness Expo.
Tom Shaw Performance Camp (February)
Since 2006, renowned speed and conditioning coach Tom Shaw has trained some of the top NFL players at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Notable athletes include Deion Sanders, Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes (Pittsburgh Steelers), 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison (Pittsburgh Steelers), Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions), Glenn Dorsey (Kansas City Chiefs), Chris Johnson (Tennessee Titans) and Devin Hester (Chicago Bears).
Atlanta Braves Spring Training (February-March)
On March 27, 1997, the Atlanta Braves exhibition game versus the Cincinnati Reds marked the grand opening of the sports complex. Led by manager Bobby Cox and perennial all-star Chipper Jones, the Braves enjoyed a string of nine straight division titles while at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and now feature one of the most promising young teams in baseball.
Cheerleading Worlds Championship (April)
Considered the Super Bowl of cheerleading events, the Cheerleading Worlds Championship features the globe’s best cheerleading squads. Participation in the event has grown dramatically from three international teams representing two countries to more than 100 teams (8,500 cheerleaders) from 40 countries.
AAU Boys Basketball National Championships (July)
The tournament features some of the top high school-age players from across the country. Known as a breeding ground for future NBA stars (Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade), the event attracts NCAA coaches from the top basketball programs, making it the premier collegiate recruiting event in the nation.
ESPN RISE Games presented by Target (July)
The multi-sport festival anchored by several elite high school sports events including the AAU 17-under Boys Basketball Super Showcase, the Under Armour High School Softball All-American game and the Gridiron Kings, an elite 7-on-7 football event. The event also includes an open division for baseball, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse and track & field competitions.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (debuts October 2010)
The Disney Wine & Dine Fall Half Marathon Weekend will make its debut Oct. 1-2, 2010. The nighttime race will take participants through multiple theme parks and will culminate at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival for an exclusive after-hours party. The weekend will include Mickey’s Halloween Family Fun Run 5K, Kids Races and the event’s first-ever half marathon two-person relay.
Children’s Miracle Network Classic (November)
Since 1971, the PGA TOUR’s most magical stop has taken place at Walt Disney World Resort. The Palm and Magnolia golf courses play host to the final tournament of the PGA TOUR Fall Series. Notable winners of the event include Jack Nicklaus, who won the first three Classics (’71-’73), Payne Stewart (’83), Tiger Woods (’96, ’99), Vijay Singh (’04), Davis Love III (’08) and Stephen Ames (’07,’09).
Old Spice Classic (November)
The premier pre-season Division I event is an eight-team, 12-game men’s basketball tournament that takes place over Thanksgiving weekend and features some of the top collegiate teams in America. Past winners include Arkansas (2006), North Carolina State (2007), Gonzaga (2008) and Florida State (2009). Competing this year will be Notre Dame, Temple, Boston College, California, Georgia, Manhattan College, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.
The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards/Disney Spirit Award (December)
The star-studded awards show features the live presentation of nine of college football’s most prestigious awards, along with Disney’s Spirit Award. The event takes place at Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s BoardWalk. Disney’s Spirit Award has been presented annually to college football’s most inspirational figure since 1996, including Tim Tebow in 2008 and Mark Herzlich in 2009.
Pop Warner Super Bowl (December)
Sixty-four of the top youth football teams in the nation compete in this week-long Super Bowl after advancing through regional competitions. National crowns will be won in four divisions based on size and age – Jr. Pee Wee (ages 8-11 yrs.), Pee Wee (9-12 yrs.), Jr. Midget (10-13 yrs.) and Midget (11-15 yrs.). The Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championships also takes place, bringing together thousands of cheerleaders from across the country.
Disney’s Soccer Showcase presented by Chelsea Football Club (December)
Widely regarded as the leading elite youth soccer tournament in the nation, this event annually attracts the top high school-aged boys and girls soccer players from across the country. The tournament features more than 500 teams (roughly 9,500 athletes). More than 800 college coaches attend, making it the place where top college prospects are recruited.
ESPN WWoS Complex Breakdown
ARCHITECTURE (Overall Facility)
Architect: David Schwarz (Washington, D.C.). Schwarz also designed The Ballpark at Arlington, home of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers.
Design: “Florida Picturesque” style embodies a Florida- or Mediterranean-flavor design with Spanish-style roofing, blue and green accent tiling, vibrant yellow colors and symmetrical tower-like structures.
Venues: Champion Stadium, The Fieldhouse, Jostens Center , Hess Sports Fields, Baseball Quadraplex, Softball Complex, Tennis Complex, Track & Field Complex, including cross country, covered training facility, Production Center and Welcome Center. A state-of-the-art bowling center is coming in 2012.
Other amenities: Expanded retail pop-ups (four locations), ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, PlayStation Pavilion, a welcome center and a parking lot with more than 5,000 spaces.
The centerpiece of the sports complex, Champion Stadium is a retro-style Major League Baseball ballpark that annually hosts MLB spring training (Atlanta Braves) and numerous amateur tournaments. With permanent seating and existing infrastructure, the facility can also host concerts, corporate hospitality functions, event opening ceremonies and other large gatherings.
Maximum capacity for 11,500 guests, including 9,500 permanent upper and lower deck seats (80 percent are located between first and third base), plus a grass berm in left field that offers seating for an additional 2,000+ guests.
Four luxury suites (all include indoor and outdoor seating areas), plus an additional suite that features a large conference room; two upper-level outdoor suites; and two mezzanine-level outdoor terraces.
Display booth equipped with state-of-the-art production equipment for managing in-stadium entertainment, including a 33’ 7” wide by 21’7” high jumbo screen which can display ESPN programming, customized videos, daily highlight reels and interviews from the sports complex.
2,500 square foot state-of-the-art facility with eight edit bays and uplinks to ESPN in Bristol, Conn., Los Angeles and New York.
56 high-definition cameras (42 robotic, 10 handheld and four studio) and 40 high-definition video screens, including 3 jumbo screens that can capture and display footage, event highlights and interviews that will broadcast throughout the complex and on various Disney and ESPN platforms.
Versatile indoor arena includes high arches and trusses and other architectural and design elements reminiscent of a classic 1950s style fieldhouse (capacity: 5,500). This multi-purpose facility can accommodate virtually any indoor sport that does not require ice, including basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, volleyball, martial arts, team handball, roller hockey, cheerleading and dance, trampoline and tumbling, indoor tennis, etc., in addition to concerts and conventions.
Room for six full-size collegiate basketball courts (four on main level and two upstairs on auxiliary court).
A state-of-the-art multi-sport fieldhouse, Jostens Center includes space for six college-size basketball courts, or 12 regulation-size volleyball courts, or two roller hockey rinks, and four locker rooms, two conference rooms and two officials’ rooms.
HESS SPORTS FIELDS
The Sports Fields venue, sponsored by Amerada Hess Corporation, are large enough to accommodate a variety of outdoor sports — soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball, field hockey, rugby, softball, cricket, etc. The seven grass playing surfaces and four fields may be used collectively for one large event or multiple events may take place simultaneously on various fields.
Permanent bleacher seating is available at each field and additional bleachers may be added for larger events (capacity: 10,000).
BASEBALL QUADRAPLEX/ SOFTBALL COMPLEX
The Baseball Quadraplex includes four professional baseball fields and a half field (used for infield drills). The quad annually hosts MLB players during spring training and minor league players during Rookie League (Gulf Coast League) and Fall Instructional League seasons, as well as camps, clinics and tournaments for amateur and youth players.
The Softball Complex includes six fields that can accommodate fastpitch and slowpitch softball, as well as youth baseball (12 and younger).
Tennis complex includes 10 “HAR TRU” green clay courts, including a stadium court, and can accommodate events ranging from youth clinics to major professional tournaments. Formerly hosted U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships on ATP Tour (1997-2000).
TRACK & FIELD COMPLEX
World-class 400-meter polyurethane Track & Field Complex meets IAAF world governing body standards and measurements, and is consistent with Olympic T&F venues throughout the world.
The Track & Field Complex features an adaptable Cross Country Course.
ESPN WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS GRILL
An enlarged and enhanced sports-themed fast casual restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating located across from Champion Stadium. The restaurant contains a full bar and menu items include burgers, pizza, signature sandwiches and salads, along with a variety of desserts and beverages.
Includes high-definition TV screens, live radio remote capabilities and a SportsCenter desk.
ESPN INNOVATION LAB
New home for the Emerging Technology group at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Facility develops various broadcast-related technologies that eventually may make their way to air on ESPN Networks.
ESPN has utilized the sports complex and its numerous sporting events to build and test future on-air applications, such as player and object tracking and player game simulation.
Retail facilities: Three sports-themed merchandise locations reside at the sports complex, while customized merchandise vehicles are located throughout the other venues during individual events.
The Welcome Center provides assistance to sports complex guests during their visit to Walt Disney World Resort, including planning for theme park visits, dining and golf reservations.
The PlayStation Pavilion features 17 state-of-the-art PlayStation 3 systems, including a SingStar stage, and a collection of just-released game titles.
ESPN WWoS Complex Quick Facts
The complex incorporates the signature elements of ESPN for a one-of-a-kind experience that is designed to take youth sports to the next level and make athletes, coaches and fans feel as if they made it to the “big time” and on to ESPN.
The complex features a 20-zone audio system, 56 high-definition cameras (42 robotic, 10 handheld and four studio) and 40 high-definition video screens, including three jumbo screens, that can capture any competition at the complex and display live action, game highlights, player interviews and ESPN programming.
A new 2,500-square-foot state-of-the-art Production Center with eight edit bays and uplinks to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., New York and Los Angeles provides competition footage to various ESPN media platforms such as ESPN, ESPNRISE.com and ESPN3.com.
The ESPN Innovation Lab, where new ground-breaking on-air products are developed and tested utilizing the athletes and events taking place at the complex. Additionally, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex was recently designated as ESPN’s development hub for 3D telecast technology.
A redesigned and renamed ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, a sports-themed eatery with high-definition TV screens, live radio remote capabilities and a SportsCenter desk.
The PlayStation Pavilion features 17 PlayStation 3 systems, including a SingStar stage, and a collection of just-released sports-themed games and other titles.
The Welcome Center is an information hub for sports complex guests looking for sports event information as well as theme park information, dining reservation, golf tee times, etc.
About ESPN, Inc.
ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of six domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU), ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPNU HD simulcast services, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (46 networks, syndication, radio, Web sites), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN PPV, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN3.com (Broadband), ESPN Mobile Properties, ESPN on Demand and ESPN Interactive. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.
About ESPN Technology:
ESPN Technology develops the ideas and applications that bring the fan closer to the game with new, innovative production enhancements. ESPN’s technology team designed and supports two of the most technologically advanced production centers in the world, the Digital Center in Bristol, Conn., and the Los Angeles Production Center which is the first 1080p-capable production facility. In addition, the Emerging Technology Group has developed many on-air advancements over the past 30 years, including virtual graphics applications, Huck-O-Meter and the Emmy-winning EA Virtual Playbook.