LOS ANGELES -- Five ESPN Zone venues will close on June 16, leaving just two units of the chain operating in Los Angeles and Anaheim, according to an ESPN spokesman. The venues closing are in Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, Las Vegas and Washington, DC. Two ESPN Zones closed in Atlanta and Denver last year.
Launched in 1998, the chain of sports-themed, location-based entertainment sites blend restaurants, coin-op amusements, and TV and radio studios. Disney Regional Entertainment, a division of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, manages the chain, which comprised nine stores at its peak.
According to The Wall Street Journal, ESPN Zone general manager Dominic Minniti described the chain's "overall economics" as "very challenging." Several units of the chain occupied such high-cost real estate as Times Square in Manhattan, which required peak traffic to maintain profitability -- a difficult task in the current economy. The Times Square store opened 11 years ago.