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Entrance to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, 2010
|Location||Walt Disney World Resort, Bay Lake, Florida, U.S.|
|Owner||Walt Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products
(The Walt Disney Company)
|Operator||Disney Sports Enterprises|
|Opened||March 28, 1997|
|Walt Disney World|
The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is a 220 acres (89 ha) athletic complex located in the Walt Disney World Resort, in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando, Florida. 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 from 1997 until 2010 when it was re-branded with the Disney-owned ESPN brand. The rebranding was unveiled on February 25, 2010. It served as the home of the Orlando City Soccer Club for the 2014 season.
Disney built the US$100 million facility on former wetlands under the direction of Disney Vice President Reggie Williams. The venue opened in March 1997 with an exhibition baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds. Initial tenants were Braves, the Harlem Globetrotters, NFL Experience, the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships and Amateur Athletic Union.
On May 13, 2008, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to rebrand Disney's Wide World of Sports using the ESPN brand. 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. 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.
The current admission price for ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is $17.50 for adults and $12.50 for children ages 3–9. Some events, particularly those at Champion Stadium, HP Field House, and Visa 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.
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.
A 5,000-seat multi-purpose arena, formerly the Milk House, sponsored by HP Inc.. It hosts the AdvoCare Invitational college basketball tournament 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.
First announced in March 2007, the complex's 10th anniversary year, the J Center (formerly 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. The center features six college-size basketball courts, twelve volleyball courts, or two roller hockey rinks. Its seating capacity is 1,200.
Presented by Marathon Corporation, these fifteen multi-purpose fields can host a number of different sports. All fields are equipped for night play, and eleven are made to international soccer dimensions. Four are mainly baseball fields but the outfields are multi-purpose. 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.
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. All fields are equipped for night play.
A 1,000 to 8,500 seat ten-court tennis complex.
Consists of multi-purpose fields, the Track and Field Complex, and a 0.7-mile (1.1 km) wooded trail.
A 500-seat competition facility for track and field events, designed to International Association of Athletics Federations specifications.
Water fountains are available throughout the complex. ATMs are located by the box office at the main entrance, and in Champion Stadium. Free Wi-Fi internet access is available at several locations throughout the complex.
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 was the PlayStation Pavilion, with several PlayStation 3 consoles with the latest sports games. Originally provided free of charge, it later charged $5 per 30 minutes. The PlayStation Pavilion has now closed and was turned into a production studio in 2015.
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.
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.
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. At the moment, however, the plans seem to be on hold.
Instead, Disney announced plans in February 2016 to build a new indoor sports venue, designed for cheerleading and dance competitions. The venue will be able to hold over 8,000 fans and was opened in January.
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. Disney appealed the judgment, and settled out of court in September 2002 for undisclosed terms.
|Events and tenants|
|Home of Orlando City Soccer Club
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