I’m at a bit of a loss to wrap my mind around this announcement made on the Disney Parks blog today — ESPN The Weekend has been canceled. The message from Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director at Walt Disney World, claims that Disney wants to concentrate on events like the ESPN RISE Games at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. But this leaves fans of ESPN personalities and professional sports figures in the lurch as neither will be available at ESPN WWOS tournament based events.
I think it’s a great idea for Disney to focus on getting the word out about ESPN WWOS. It’s a wonderful campus for youth and athletes to experience some of what it’s like to perform on a big stage, even to the point of simulated ESPN television coverage. There is a lot they could do there. But unless they add in more theme park elements, it will remain a niche park with a primary focus on sporting events.
The sports entertainment powerhouse that is ESPN and all its related properties drives a lot of profits into Disney’s coffers. ESPN The Weekend was a way of giving back to the fans and nurturing that community. If anything, Disney should be expanding by adding a second weekend during the off-season of the NBA and NHL so those athletes and their fans could attend.
Yes, I”m sure there is a big cost factor to importing, feeding, and housing all that talent. While I haven’t heard for sure, they way this usually works at Disney is one Division uses its marketing budget to foot the bill for expenses at the theme park. It may have been ESPN that decided to end the event, not the people at Disney parks.
Either way, I think it’s a bad move. What is your reaction?