(L-R) Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises; George Bodenheimer, co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports; Al Weiss, president of worldwide operations for Disney Parks and Resorts; and Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort, pose Feb. 25, 2010 with a football-clad Mickey Mouse during the official re-launch ceremony for the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. ESPN Wide World of Sports is a 220-acre international sports complex located at Walt Disney World Resort. (David Roark, photographer)
Garrett Hartley, place-kicker for the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints, kicks a football Feb. 25, 2010 over the entrance archway to the newly rebranded ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Hartley’s kick was the official “relaunching” moment during a gala ceremony held for the 220-acre, international sports venue. Hartley joined more than 50 sports celebrities for the red carpet-style event at Walt Disney World Resort. (Garth Vaughan, photographer)
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 located at the Walt Disney World resort 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,” said Chuck Pagano, executive vice president, technology, ESPN. “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.”
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., January 10, 2011. Additional events will be announced at a later date.
To commemorate the opening of the Champion Custom Tee Center at the ESPN Wide World of Sports located at the Walt Disney World resort, Steelers’ running back and Champion brand ambassador Rashard Mendenhall will greet guests on Friday, February 26 at the Champion Sports Zone at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Mendenhall will be greeting his fans from 12 – 2 pm. No purchase is required to meet with Mendenhall, however admission to the park is required.
Speaking on the new Champion Custom Tee Center, Champion Executive Vice President Kevin Hall says: “The Custom Tee Center was created with our mantra, ‘How You Play’ in mind. It’s an interactive apparel experience that allows the fan to take our product and make it their own – it’s all about how they ‘play’ and the athlete’s event t-shirts should reflect that.”
As we reported earlier, two mobile units and one permanent location will be open for easy consumer access and the center will expand this summer, offering additional and versatile personalization options.
On the official Disney Parks blog, Walt Disney World has announced that Champion will open a Custom Tee Center later this month in which those competing at events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports can take their event tees to the center and choose from over 50 embellishments to add to the tee, ranging in cost from $1.95 – $4.95 each.
The main location for the center will be inside the Jostens Center, across from the entrance to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, but mobile units will be dispatched across the complex as needed by events as they happen.
Three of the biggest names in sports and entertainment will come together this week when the Harlem Globetrotters join forces with ESPN and Disney Sports as part of the official re-launch of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.
As part of the gala “re-opening” night festivities, the Globetrotters will take on the Washington Generals at the complex, with an all-star Globetrotter roster, including Special K Daley, Scooter Christensen, Big Easy Lofton and Flight Time Lang being joined by a bevy of sports celebrities, ESPN personalities and Disney characters. The game will be taped before a live audience on Thursday and televised nationally on Friday, February 26, at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The special performance will include ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic from Mike & Mike in the Morning, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary on the air, serving as honorary coaches. In addition, ESPN’s Emerging Technology Group will use the game as a first test run for the network’s much-anticipated ESPN 3D network, scheduled to launch later this year in conjunction with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
In addition to the opening night event, the Globetrotters will also once again take part in several events throughout the popular annual “ESPN The Weekend” (Feb. 25-28) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park and the newly re-imagined sports complex.
“We’re thrilled to bring the Globetrotters’ magic to this landmark event,” said Harlem Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider. “The Globetrotters are proud to be global ambassadors of both sports and family entertainment, and partnering with the undisputed worldwide leaders—Disney Sports and ESPN—in both those categories is a tremendous honor that we take great pride in.”
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.
Sponsored by Campbell Soup Company, Spalding, Howard Johnson and America’s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses, the Original Harlem Globetrotters are in their 84th consecutive season of touring the world. The Globetrotters are one of only six teams to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Effective February 21, there will no longer be a bus available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to take guests to the ESPN Wide World of Sports facility. Instead, guests can catch a bus to/from Disney’s All-Star Resorts, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Buses are expected to operate between 7 am and 11 pm daily, but will change times and frequency as dictated by sporting events occuring that day.
Also on hand to commemorate the event will be the popular ESPN sports broadcasting team of Mike and Mike along with several other high profile athletes and ESPN personalities.
Tickets are now available from ticketmaster.com and range from $30-$50 in price. Attending guests will also receive a free commemorative t-shirt marking the event.
On its official blog, Disney Vinylmation has introduced three new Vinylmation special edition figures that will be released at the Walt Disney World resort on January 8 in honor of upcoming 2010 marathon events, each designed by Disney Design Group artist Maria Clapsis.
Pictured from top to bottom are the 3″ Walt Disney World 2010 Marathon figure, the 3″ Walt Disney World 2010 Half Marathon Figure and the 9″ Walt Disney World Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge 2010 figure.
Guests do not need to be marathon participants in order to purchase the special edition Vinylmation figures which will be available at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.
It took eight workers about eight hours to re-brand the basketball court last used by the NCAA Women’s Final Four last year in honor of the Wide World of Sports Complex’s rebranding taking place in February. The court will next be used over Thanksgiving Weekend for the Old Spice Classic.
Below is a time-lapse video courtesy of Disney which shows the new logo being put into place.