Festival to debut along with ESPN Zone Baltimore sports event to be broadcast twice

June 07, 1998|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

When the ESPN Zone kicks off in Baltimore's Power Plant next month, it will also launch a new yearly event for the Inner Harbor -- an outdoor sports festival for fans and participants alike.

This year's event will be captured on videotape and beamed into 75 million homes around the world via a half-hour program on ESPN the following day, promoting Baltimore and the first ESPN Zone entertainment center simultaneously. Dan Patrick, co-anchor of ESPN's nightly "SportsCenter," will be the host.

"ESPN is all about the fan experience," said Scott P. Dickey, director of marketing and sales for ESPN Zone. "We thought for the opening celebration, the best way to create that experience was to create something all the sports fans could participate in."

The inaugural ESPN Zone Inner Harbor Sports Festival will occur on July 11, the day before the Zone's opening.

ESPN Zone is Walt Disney Co.'s latest entertainment concept, a production that is part high-tech dining room, part sports arena -- a 35,000-square-foot complex with two levels, designed to feel like a stadium and to hold 550 people.

Inside ESPN Zone, customers will be able to eat in the restaurant and bar, watch their favorite sports in a special screening room or play actual and virtual games in a 10,000-square-foot arena.

The sports festival will offer exhibition free-style ski jumping and slam-dunking, along with skate boarding, in-line skating and mountain biking on a U-shaped ramp.

For sports fans who like to be part of the game, there will be a three-point shooting contest and a quarterback zone in which players will throw a football at targets for points.

All events will be free except for a charity hole-in-one contest in which players will pay $5 for a shot at a green, anchored about 75 yards out in the harbor. The fund-raiser will benefit police athletic leagues and will offer a prize to the winner.

Baltimore promoters are enthusiastic about ESPN Zone's role in revitalizing the Power Plant and continuing growth in the Inner Harbor.

"It's action-packed, it's exciting, it's fun, it's participatory," said Carroll R. Armstrong, president of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. "Those are the kinds of images we're trying to project as the Baltimore experience."

Armstrong said the ESPN coverage of the inaugural sports festival is the kind of national visibility they had envisioned.

The show will be broadcast at 12: 30 p.m. July 12 and will include coverage of the sports festival and the VIP party with its local and national sports stars that follows. The Orioles will be in town that day to play the Red Sox, and players from both teams are expected to attend the party, along with some Ravens players. The show will air again at 7 that night on ESPN2.

Pub Date: 6/07/98

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