Disney World to relaunch sports complex under ESPN brand

Disney and ESPN are working together to rebrand Disney World’s Wide World of Sports Complex under the ESPN umbrella. The new complex is scheduled to be unveiled next Feb. 25 and 26 in conjunction with ESPN’s “The Weekend” fan experience at Disney World.

The 220-acre facility will include an on-site HD broadcast facility, video screens and JumboTrons around the complex. Video from nearly any event taking place in the park will be displayed in addition to ESPN’s programming, breaking news and scores.

Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Entertainment, told a press event in New York City in early November that the Wide World of Sports Complex would host 500,000 athletes and 1.5 million spectators each year. He said 85 percent of the athletes would not have come to the resort were it not for a sports competition.

ESPN “SportsCenter” anchors and highlights from sporting events will be broadcast from the complex each day. Video highlights will be sent to hotel rooms at the Disney World Resort and to audiences outside the complex, such as athletes’ family members, Potrock said.

The ESPN Innovation Lab, run by the ESPN Emerging Technology Group, will be located at the complex. It develops and tests new sports-programming technology initiatives. Among the technologies that have been developed by the group and are already used in pro sports broadcasts include the EA Virtual Playbook application, used during ESPN’s NFL and NBA coverage, and the Home Run Derby ball-tracking technology.