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October 8, 2015


Disney, ESPN New Teammates in Orlando

Diane Sears | 5/1/2010

Disney rebrands its Wide World of Sports. [Photo: Gene Duncan]

SPN and Disney have become teammates in Disney’s land of make-believe, partnering in a deal to funnel more visitors into Disney’s theme parks and create a new, younger audience for the sports network.

At a lavish celebration in February, the Disney Wide World of Sports athletic attraction dropped the Disney name and took ESPN’s. The rebranding includes technological upgrades: Slick new scoreboards, an audio system and a TV production facility where young athletes can experience a simulated SportsCenter.

ESPN, which Disney owns, is looking to establish its brand among a younger audience represented by the more than 2 million young athletes from 70 countries who have attended more than 2,500 events at the 220-acre athletic attraction since it opened in 1997.

For Disney, there’s an equally important payoff: It hopes kids and their families will come to the complex for a tournament, then spend time and money at Disney’s other parks.

“It leads very comfortably to driving new business,” says Ken Potrock, senior vice president for Disney Sports Enterprises. “And because there’s nothing else out there like us, if a coach has to decide between a tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney or somewhere else, I’ve got a good shot that the event is coming to us.”

— Dave Scheiber

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