ESPN serves up Grill

Joint venture with Disney plans chain

Looking to get a toehold in the fledgling sports bar business, Disney Regional Entertainment and ESPN on Tuesday jointly announced the launch of a chain of ESPN Grill restaurants that will serve as something of a Chuck E. Cheese for grown-up jocks.

The first ESPN Grills — described as “sports-themed dining and entertainment venues” — are slated to open in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in summer ’98 and in Chicago’s River North neighborhood in spring ’99. Eateries in other major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, are skedded to be added in the months that follow.

Restaurants, each nearly the size of a football field, will ivolve dining in an ESPN “SportsCenter” mockup and viewing big-screen TV monitors from a “skybox” section. The third element is interactive, featuring an entertainment arena where patrons can participate in a variety of sports-oriented games and activities.

Michael Eisner, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Co., said in a statement, “Just as ESPN is the most exciting place in sports telecasting, we want to make the ESPN Grill the place where fans can share their passion for sports, great food and great fun — a place where the cheering never stops.”

ESPN prexy Steven ornstein added that the complexes will “capture the attitude that has made ESPN the worldwide leader in sports,” while Disney Regional Entertainment prez Art Levitt noted that the establishments would benefit from ESPN’s sports programming savvy and “Disney’s quality of operations and creative expertise to provide an immersing, entertaining experience.”

The ESPN Grill concept is the latest attempt by corporate parent Disney to expand and extend the ESPN brand. It recently launched a themed retail chain entitled ESPN the Store, which in September opened its prototype outlet in the Glendale Galleria. And a biweekly sports publication titled ESPN Magazine is due to be launched in March ’98.

More TV

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accusers Detail Abuse, Reveal Evidence on 'Dateline'

    The continuing controversy surrounding R. Kelly, including allegations of sexual abuse by a number of women over three decades, was the focus of Friday’s episode of “Dateline.” Speaking to accusers Sparkle, Jerhonda Pace and parents Tim and Jonjelyn Savage, among others, NBC’s Andrea Canning heard more harrowing tales of abduction and sexual misconduct on the part [...]

  • Kenan Thompson

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots 'Saving Kenan' and 'Like Magic'

    NBC has ordered comedies “Saving Kenan” and “Like Magic” to pilot. “Saving Kenan” is a single-camera comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson as a “newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives.” Jackie Clarke will serve as writer and [...]

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    'The First' Canceled at Hulu After One Season

    Hulu has grounded the space exploration drama “The First” after one season, Variety has confirmed. The series hailed from Beau Willimon and starred Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone in Penn’s first regular television role. “The First” was set in the near future and followed the first human mission to Mars. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in [...]

  • Nicole Maines Supergirl Trans Hollywood Portrait

    TV Roundup: 'Supergirl' Drops First Look at Nicole Maines as TV's First Trans Superhero

    In today’s TV News Roundup, The CW releases a first look at Nicole Maines on “Supergirl” and Variety unveils an exclusive look at Gabriel Iglesias’ new comedy special.  FIRST LOOKS truTV has released the first trailer for season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” The variety sketch comedy returns Tuesday, Feb. 19 at [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content