LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2010) - Already distinguished for its unparalleled diversity of sport, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex has added an even wider variety of events in 2010 and beyond, highlighted by the debut of its first-ever Major League Gaming Pro Circuit tournament and the expansion of events that are part of the ESPN RISE Games. New and expanded events range from traditional sports (baseball, softball and soccer) to up-and-coming sports (lacrosse and rugby) to non-traditional sports (Major League Gaming and VEX Robotics).
The ESPN RISE Games in July is expected to expand considerably, with more than triple the number of athletes from last year. In its second year, the event includes seven sports, with new events involving AAU basketball, U.S. Lacrosse and USSSA softball.
This year, the complex will serve as a 2010 tournament stop on the Major League Gaming Pro Circuit, bringing together the nation's top professional and amateur video gamers for a three-day competition at the complex. In all, the tournament plans to attract more than 250 teams, comprised of nearly 2,500 gamers, with competitors facing off in a variety of popular games. Major League Gaming is the largest professional video game league in the world, targeting the approximately 40 million North American consumers who have a passion for playing video games as a competitive social activity.
The famed Harlem Globetrotters return to the facility for a special performance on Feb. 25 as part of the official re-launch of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The clown princes of basketball play the Washington Generals in a special performance featuring sports celebrities, ESPN personalities and Disney characters, in a game that airs on ESPN2 on Feb. 26. The Globetrotters have entertained fans around the world for more than 84 seasons and have won more than 23,000 games.
Capitalizing on the excitement of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Walt Disney World Resort will host viewing parties across the resort, including at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, for guests looking to follow the action of their favorite countries while on vacation.
TRADITIONAL:Varsity Brands has extended its relationship with Walt Disney World Resort through 2014 and will look to add to its list of national cheerleading championships and events that currently includes the College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship, the National High School Cheerleading Championship, the National All Star Cheerleading Championship, the National Dance Team Championships and the Cheerleading and Dance Worlds Championship. These championships are broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2 to more than 90 million homes each year. More than 40,000 cheerleaders and 80,000 fans attend these events annually.
Those events join several other recently announced events such as the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, Oct. 1-2, which culminates with a 13.1-mile nighttime race and after-hours party inside the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. And the inaugural Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic (Feb. 25 and 27), a four-team exhibition event featuring two-time MLS Cup Champion Houston Dynamo, the New York Red Bulls, who reached 2008 MLS Cup Final, FC Dallas and Toronto FC.
USSSA, a longstanding partner of the complex, has expanded its event offerings to include a new 64-team elite baseball national championship, and two additional girls fast pitch softball national championships. Additionally, the USSSA Pride, a pro women's softball team, will be playing two four-game homestands at the complex in the summer of 2010.
Another new event is the Rawlings Gold Glove baseball tournament, an invitational tournament with players (ages 10-18) from around the country, scheduled for fall 2010.
Pop Warner Little Scholars, the parent organization of the Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheerleader Championships, has expanded its event lineup to include Pop Warner-branded flag football tournaments.
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will be hosting the NIKE Football Combines, providing SPARQ testing to thousands of high school athletes wanting to measure and track their athletic capabilities.
UP-AND-COMING:The national governing bodies (NGB) for USA wrestling, judo, gymnastics, fencing and lacrosse have extended their relationships with ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and will host several new and expanded events between 2010 and 2013.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) has extended its involvement through 2014, with the complex hosting the 2011 MAAC Men's Soccer Championships, the 2012 MAAC Cross Country Championships, the 2013 MAAC Women's Soccer Championships and the 2014 MAAC Volleyball Championships. The MAAC has hosted conference championships at Walt Disney World Resort since 1998.
In September, the complex will host the Touch Rugby USA Nationals, an international rugby tournament with limited physical contact. The event features some of the best adult touch rugby athletes from around the world.
Disney's Soccer Showcase, which features the top youth soccer players in the nation, will add a fourth college showcase tournament to its popular lineup of events in the summer of 2010.
AAU is expanding its national championship events at the complex with the addition of three more girls' basketball championships and showcase tournaments, and the addition of a boys and girls national cross country championship in December.
The high school and college spring training program, presented by Champion, at the sports complex, which involves baseball, softball, lacrosse and track & field teams from around the country training at the sports complex, will expand to include golf this year.
A volleyball summer camp in June, hosted by Kaylee Scholarship Association, will become the first-ever high school team camp offering.
In November, the VEX Robotics competition returns for the annual VEX Robotics All-Star Challenge Tournament. The Vex Robotics Competition, the largest secondary school robotics program in the world with more than 2,500 teams in 20 countries, features middle school and high school teams competing against each other with their student-built robots in a game that tests their science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.
The Iron Kids Triathlon has been added to the Iron Man 70.3 Florida Triathlon Weekend, held at Walt Disney World Resort. Similar to the Iron Man event, the Iron Kids Triathlon involves swimming, biking and running.
About ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 300 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the United States, accommodating 60 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries. Designed to take youth sports to the next level, the 220-acre facility features: The Fieldhouse, a 165,000-square-foot fieldhouse which seats 5,500 for basketball; Champion Stadium ballpark (cap. 11,500); Hess Sports Fields, which include multiple baseball, softball and soccer fields; Jostens Center, an 80,000-square-foot multi-sport fieldhouse; and Innovation Lab, a real-world testing ground for the ESPN Emerging Technology group to develop ground-breaking on-air products like Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom. In addition, the complex features 56 high-definition cameras (42 robotic, 10 handheld and four studio) and 40 high-definition video screens, including three jumbo screens, that can capture and display footage from any event taking place at the complex. The camera and video screens, as well as a 20-zone audio system, are controlled through the state-of-the-art Production Center that features eight edit bays and links to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., New York and Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.wdwnews.com for releases, photos and videos. Follow us on Twitter at @DisneySports.
New and Expanded Events for 2010 and Beyond
ESPN RISE Games
Major League Gaming
Major League Soccer
FIFA World Cup Viewing
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
Rawlings Gold Glove Baseball Tournament
Pop Warner Flag Football
AAU Girls Basketball Championships and Showcase
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships
USSSA Baseball and Softball
Touch Rugby USA Nationals
Kaylee Scholarship Association Volleyball Summer Camp
Iron Kids Triathlon
New Events Tied to National Governing Bodies for Wrestling, Judo, Gymnastics, Fencing and Lacrosse
Disney Soccer Showcase
Disney High School Spring Training Program