×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Viacom HQ LA

    Viacom Stock Takes Hit Amid DirecTV Battle

    Viacom shares have taken a hit in trading Wednesday, a day after the company went public with its brewing battle over a new carriage agreement with AT&T’s DirecTV. Viacom shares were down more than 5% by midday, dropping to $26.05. On Tuesday afternoon, Viacom began warning viewers that its channels may go dark as of [...]

  • Ava DuVernay Sets Anthology Series 'Cherish

    Ava DuVernay Sets Romance Anthology Series 'Cherish the Day' at OWN (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has given out a straight-to-series order for an anthology that hails from Ava DuVernay, Variety has learned exclusively. The series is titled “Cherish the Day.” Each season, the anthology series chronicles the romance of one couple, with each episode spanning a single day. The season-long narrative will unfold to reveal [...]

  • Dora the Exlorer Paw Patrol Rugrats

    Nickelodeon at 40: Breaking Down the Big Hits From 'Dora' to 'SpongeBob'

    As Nickelodeon turns 40, Variety breaks down some of the network’s most important titles to date. “All That” “All That” launched careers in its 1994-2005 run, and is being resurrected with a new cast and many of the same producers this summer. “It just seemed like a quirky, different hang out for kids,” says original [...]

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Double Dare

    Nickelodeon at 40: King of Kids TV Is Still Expanding its Brand

    As Nickelodeon turns 40, the kids’ network is finding ways to rely on its past as it presses boldly into the future. “My goal is to fill up every screen of every size to make Nick kids’ first and last stop for everything they want in entertainment,” says Nickelodeon Group president Brian Robbins, who succeeded [...]

  • Epic Games Unveils $100 Million 'MegaGrants'

    Epic Games Unveils $100 Million 'MegaGrants' For Film, Game, Other Creators

    Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney kicked off the company’s annual Game Developers Conference keynote with some big news for creators: a commitment to hand out $100 million to game makers, film and TV creators, students, educators, tool developers, essentially anyone working to enhance 3D graphics and inspire creativity. The Epic MegaGrants is an [...]

  • Kenan Thompson SNL

    How Nickelodeon Inspired the Next Generation of Hollywood Stars

    With four decades of transformative kids’ programming from such series as “All That” to “Blue’s Clues” to “Rugrats” under its belt, Nickelodeon has been responsible for inspiring new generations of Hollywood creatives. For comic actor Kenan Thompson, it’s easy to see how Nickelodeon’s “All That” became a training ground for his work on NBC’s late-night, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content