It has been widely reported today that Disney
Here's what, exactly, the company is closing (quoting Disney's 10-K):
The ESPN Zone concept combines three interactive areas under one roof for a complete sports and entertainment experience: the Studio Grill, offering dining in an ESPN studio environment; the Screening Room, offering fans an exciting sports viewing environment; and the Sports Arena, challenging guests with a variety of interactive and competitive games.
As a resident of D.C., I'll admit that I'll miss the sports-bar-on-steroids concept. As a Disney shareholder, though, this seems like smart business. ESPN Zone General Manager Dominic Minniti told The Wall Street Journal that, "The overall economics of continuing this operation were very challenging."
No doubt. Restaurants are a notoriously competitive industry, made even more so during recessionary times. On top of that, the ESPN Zones were in high-rent districts -- Times Square in New York, the Strip in Vegas, Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
My colleague Bryan White, an analyst at Motley Fool Stock Advisor (where Disney is a recommendation), also told me that this should have no bearing on the ESPN brand. "Everyone in that demographic already knows the ESPN brand -- very well -- so the Zones don't really spread the word, so to speak."
The bottom line: I'll miss my ESPN Zone as a consumer, but as a shareholder, I'll be happy for ESPN and Disney to focus on its higher-growth businesses.
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