It’s almost time once again for the sports fans to take over Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Sports stars from the NFL, MLB, NBA and NCAA, plus TV sports hosts, are headed back to Walt Disney World for the eighth annual ESPN The Weekend March 4 to 6, 2011.
This year’s lineup features more than 35 athletes and ESPN stars, including former University of Florida football coach and current ESPN college football analyst Urban Meyer, Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco, N.Y. Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, NBA Hall of Famer Julius “Dr. J” Erving and MLB Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., plus former NFL star Derrick Brooks, ex-NBA great Alonzo Mourning and current Orlando Magic players.
Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg, hosts of the popular “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show, return as co-hosts of the event, and will broadcast live March 3 and 4 from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. They will be joined by several fellow ESPN personalities such as “The Herd” host Colin Cowherd, “Monday Night Football’s” Ron Jaworski and MLB analyst Nomar Garciaparra. Additional ESPN personalities include, Tedy Bruschi, Linda Cohn, Herm Edwards, John Kruk, Karl Ravech, Bobby Valentine and Trey Wingo.
Other athletes expected to participate are:
• Donald Driver and Greg Jennings (Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers)
• Anquan Boldin (Baltimore Ravens)
• Brandon Jacobs (NY Giants)
• Rashard Mendenhall (Pittsburgh Steelers)
• Darrelle Revis (NY Jets)
• Bart Scott (NY Jets)
• Roddy White (Atlanta Falcons)
• DeAngelo Williams (Carolina Panthers)
• Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)
• Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain (NY Yankees)
• Frank Thomas and Bernie Williams (MLB legends)
• Mia Hamm (U.S. Women’s soccer legend)
• Karl Malone and Gary Payton (NBA legends)
• Tony Dorsett and Mike Singletary (NFL Hall of Famers).
The complete list of ESPN personalities and sports celebrities expected to attend is detailed at espntheweekend.com.
For the first time in the event’s history, several popular sports team mascots will participate in the event, including the Phillie Phanatic (Philadelphia Phillies), Albert E. Gator (University of Florida), the Penn State Nittany Lion, the Oregon Duck, Homer The Brave (Atlanta Braves), Captain Fear the Buccaneer (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Sebastian the Ibis (University of Miami).
In addition to athlete appearances, ESPN The Weekend will feature on-site telecasts of popular ESPN programs (beginning Thursday, March 3) at Hollywood Studios and ESPN Wide World of Sports, including Baseball Tonight, First Take, Mike & Mike in the Morning, NFL Live and Friday Night Fights. Fans can also expect to see motorcades and Q&A sessions with athletes and ESPN personalities, Inside ESPN sports shows with commentators and athletes, and the ESPN Sports Zone interactive area where fans can interact with their favorite sports stars.
There will also be Atlanta Braves spring training games taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports, including a March 3 game against the Tigers that airs on ESPN with new Sunday Night Baseball crew Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser and Valentine.
Live Broadcasts and Stage Shows
ESPN will present live telecasts – including Baseball Tonight, First Take and NFL Live from a set in front of Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat on Hollywood Boulevard. Park guests will have a chance to appear on-air via crowd shots while watching the programming on video screens. ESPN Radio shows Mike & Mike in the Morning and The Herd with Colin Cowherd will be broadcast live from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex March 3 and 4.
As Major League Baseball Spring Training games get underway, ESPN’s on-site program lineup will feature a special two-hour Baseball Tonight with host Ravech and analysts Garciaparra, Kruk and Valentine from the theme park at 4 p.m. on March 6.
ESPN Deportes’ Beisbol Esta Noche with Carolina Guillen and Candy Maldonado will broadcast from Hollywood Studios, while Jorge Ramos y Su Banda, with Jorge Ramos, Hernan Pereyra and Jose del Valle, will go live from ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Radio Disney’s on-air personality Ernie D will be broadcasting live from ESPN The Weekend on Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6 at 2 p.m., featuring interviews with athletes.
Additionally, live stage shows will bring fans and guests behind-the-scenes of some of the network’s most popular programs, including Baseball Tonight, First Take, NFL Live and Stump the Schwab. Fans can get into the action themselves by asking questions directly.
ESPN Sports Zone
This area will give guests of all ages the opportunity to test their skills at a wide variety of sports. MLB-, NBA-, NFL- and BASS-themed interactive areas within the Zone will have fans swinging for the fences, shooting baskets and throwing passes, as well as a multi-sport interactive area.
Yankee Legend to perform nightly
Four-time MLB world champion turned classical guitarist Bernie Williams, who closed out last year’s event with a live performance on Baseball Tonight, returns and will perform all three nights at the Sorcerer Hat Stage to close out the day’s activities. The former New York Yankee outfielder, who plays and composes his own music, has released two albums, The Journey Within and Moving Forward.
Friday Night Fights
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will host its first-ever Friday Night Fights on March 4, with six professional bouts planned for the Jostens Center. The marquee event features two undefeated fighters, NABF Light Heavyweight Champion Ismayl Sillakh (14-0-0) and challenger Yordanis Despaigne (8-0-0), headlining a series of bouts scheduled to air on ESPN2 at 9 p.m.
5K Road Race and Fun Run
The Champion 5K returns for its third year at Hollywood Studios at 7 a.m. on Saturday, March 5, challenging runners along the course with ESPN and sports trivia and will feature athletes and ESPN personalities, including Jay Crawford, Dana Jacobson and Trey Wingo. The 5K will benefit The V Foundation for Cancer Research, and all participants will receive a T-shirt and finisher’s medal. There will also be a Fun Run for kids at 8 a.m. To register, visit runDisney.com.
Events at Hollywood Studios are included in regular admission. Separate tickets must be purchased for events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.