The Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros baseball teams will soon begin their spring training in the Orlando area. Over at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the Braves spring training workouts begin on Feb. 15 for pitchers and catchers, with full-squad workouts beginning Feb. 19. For the Astros, spring training takes place at the Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, and all workouts are open and free to the public. Spring training workout for pitchers and catchers starts Feb. 16, along with the first full-squad workout on Feb. 20. [Read more…]
ESPN and Walt Disney World are again offering fans the opportunity to see and hear many ESPN personalities during ESPN The Weekend Feb. 25 to 28. This year’s event will be held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the newly re-imagined ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
ESPN personalities scheduled to appear are John Anderson, Tedy Bruschi, Colin Cowherd, Ron Jaworski, Karl Ravech, Sage Steele, Dick Vitale, Trey Wingo, Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg.
More than 30 athletes will also appear, including running back Maurice Jones-Drew, tight end Jason Witten, kicker Adam Vinatieri and safety Brian Dawkins; New York Yankees CC Sabathia and Joba Chamberlain; MLB legends Curt Schilling, Bernie Williams and Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Jim Palmer; NFL Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Darrell Green; former LPGA golfer Annika Sorenstam; and U.S. Olympic gold medalists Shawn Johnson and Brandi Chastain, among many others.
All of the ESPN personalities and sports celebrities expected to attend the sixth annual event are listed at espntheweekend.com (Click on Who’s Coming).
For the first time, the event branches out to the soon-to-be relaunched ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, formerly Disney’s Wide World of Sports, for a special performance by the Harlem Globetrotters (Feb 25) and two days of Major League soccer action, which help kick off the grand opening of the 220-acre multi-sport venue.
ESPN will present live telecasts – including 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. Popular 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 Feb. 25-26.
As Major League Baseball Spring Training games get underway in Florida, ESPN’s on-site program lineup will feature a special two-hour Baseball Tonight with host Karl Ravech and analysts John Kruk, Bobby Valentine and Chris Singleton from the theme park Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. as ESPN’s popular baseball news, information and highlights show kicks off its 21st season.
Mike & Mike Celebrate 10 Years
ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning will celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary at the newly re-imagined ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday, Feb. 24 (6-10 a.m.). ESPN Radio’s popular morning-drive show hosted by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic launched in January 2000. Today the show is heard (and seen on ESPN2) by more than 12 million listeners each week on more than 350 stations nationwide.
Live stage shows will bring fans and guests behind-the-scenes of some of the network’s most popular programs, including SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, First Take, NFL Live and Stump the Schwab. The shows will provide an inside look at favorite athletes, teams and ESPN programs. Fans can get into the action themselves by asking questions directly to ESPN personalities and athletes.
Guests who think they have what it takes to be on SportsCenter can experience what it’s like to audition for ESPN. Select contestants will go through a series of on-air tasks and the audience will select the best sportscaster during each show. ESPN personalities and sports celebrities will help mentor contestants as part of the experience.
Motorcades and Conversations
Periodically throughout each day, sports stars will motorcade up Hollywood Boulevard to the stage at the base of Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat and join ESPN commentators for conversations about their careers and Q&A sessions with park guests.
Interactive Sports Area
The ESPN Sports Zone 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 Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Sports Caravan, a multi-sport interactive area.
Relaunch of Wide World of Sports
ESPN joins the magic of Walt Disney World when the gates open with a special grand opening event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on Feb. 25. Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, and a number of other popular athletes and ESPN personalities are expected to be in attendance, along with George Bodenheimer, president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports and co-chairman Disney Media Networks, Meg Crofton, president, Walt Disney World Resort, and Ken Potrock, senior vice president, Disney Sports Enterprises.
Key festivities include a special grand opening ceremony, live ESPN Radio broadcasts and a variety of sports competitions. Opened originally as Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in 1997, the multi-sport complex annually hosts more than 300 events a year, including Atlanta Braves Spring Training at Champion Stadium.
The world-famous Harlem Globetrotters take center court to help tip off the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex relaunch Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. The clown princes of basketball, including Globetrotter stars Special K Daley, Flight Time Lang and Big Easy Lofton, have entertained fans for more than 84 seasons and boast over 23,000 wins. This special performance will feature Greenberg and Golic as honorary coaches, along with a number of other popular athletes and ESPN personalities joining in on the fun at The Milk House. The game will air on ESPN2 the following day, Friday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m., and ESPN’s Emerging Technology Group will use the game as a test for the company’s planned ESPN 3D network launch this summer.
5K and Fun Run
The Champion 5K returns for its second year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7 a.m., challenging runners along the course with ESPN and sports trivia and will feature athletes and ESPN personalities, including John Anderson, 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 disneyenduranceseries.com.
Major League Soccer
Helping kick off the relaunch at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, four Major League Soccer clubs, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC, will compete in the inaugural Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic Feb. 25 and 27. On Thursday, Feb. 25, the Houston Dynamo faces the New York Red Bulls at 6 p.m., followed by FC Dallas versus Toronto FC at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, Feb. 27, the two losing teams will kick off at 6 p.m., with the two winners playing in the championship game at 8:30 p.m.
The 220-acre sports complex at Walt Disney World formerly known as Disney’s Wide World of Sports has been rebranded by ESPN, and will officially relaunch Feb. 25 as “ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.”
The “E” of the ESPN logo was lowered into place on the complex’s entrance today. Disney’s multi-sport venue hosts more than 250 sporting events each year for amateur and professional athletes.
On Feb. 25, ESPN Wide World of Sports will re-open with more than 40 high-definition and robotic video cameras, plus 10 handheld cameras, and 40 high-definition video screens, including two Jumbotrons placed throughout the complex. More information can be found at espnwwos.com.
Photo by Gene Duncan.