The LOS ANGELES TIMES and BALTIMORE SUN report this morning that most of the remaining ESPN Zones will soon be “shut down.” Last year the Atlanta and Denver stores were closed. Next to be shuttered: Las Vegas, New York, D.C., Baltimore and Chicago.
An AEG source told me this morning that the only ESPN-themed restaurants to survive - for now - will be the the location in Anaheim and the downtown Los Angeles location.
The Anaheim store is owned and operated by a Disney subsidiary and is part of the Downtown Disney development. The ESPN Zone in L.A. is owned and operated by AEG and is the cornerstone property of AEG’s L.A. Live development - located just a few feet from Staples Center.
The closures are no surprise. Read more…
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!