Since becoming the Cthulhu of sports broadcasting sometime around 1998, the multi-tentacled being known as ESPN has diversified from the oh-so-boring world of actually broadcasting sports into all sorts of wacky ventures based on the premise that ESPN + [anything] = profit. Recent years saw the advent of such groundbreaking crap as ESPN-branded children’s toys,
ESPN-branded mobile phone providers, and ESPN-branded home electronics. None of these, however, matched up to the original ESPN + Crap = Profit formula: the ESPNZone restaurant.
For years, ESPN raked in vast amounts of cash from idiot tourists who thought it exciting to spend their vacations eating overpriced chicken wings and spin dip while basking in the warm glow of ESPN-branded Skee-ball machines. Their plan worked great until the idiot tourists stopped taking vacations after their subprime mortgages blew up in this crap economy of ours. Now the ESPNZone empire, built on the backs of midwestern rubes, is starting to crumble. First casualty? Denver!
That’s right, the Denver ESPNZone has followed in the footsteps of its corporate cousins Teammates and ESPN Mobile and shuffled off this mortal coil forever. According to Denver’s last remaining daily newspaper, the DENVER POST:
ESPN Zone shut its doors Monday, ending a nearly eight-year run on the 16th Street Mall and making way for a Celtic-themed restaurant and sports bar to take over its street-level space in the Tabor Center.
The company, which continues to operate eight other ESPN Zones around the country, cited the economy as motivating the closure.
“A decision like this is never easy,” Rick Alessandri, senior vice president of ESPN, said in a statement. “We recognize and appreciate the commitment and years of service of all of these employees. Unfortunately, the current economic environment offered us no other choice.”
ESPN Zone will give its roughly 100 employees a 60-day severance package, according to a notice posted on the door.
OK, let’s turn the sarcasm and contempt off for a second. ESPNZone is giving its employees a 60-day severance package? Really? That’s a pretty sweet move on their part, to be honest, and an extremely rare one in the service industry.
But what of the idiot tourists who stumble slack-jawed through the streets of downtown Denver? Without an ESPNZone, they might actually be forced to sample any number of amazing locally-owned restaurants and attractions. The horror! Unfortunately, there are still eight other ESPN Zones across the country that have not yet gone belly-up, but as long as all employees are getting 2 months’ pay, I have no problem wishing for the demise of the rest.