NEW YORK | sports complex created by Disney in its theme park of Orlando is preparing to welcome the NBA and MLS, an operation which is winning for the group, which ensures attendance, programming and advertising during a been sealed by the coronavirus.
This is the site of 103 acres, situated on top of former marshes of Florida, the league of basketball north-american NBA is going to end its season, from July 31 and play over a hundred matches by October 12.
8 July to 11 August, the football league, MLS will play it, in the same place, a tournament, waiting to eventually be able to resume its season, it also without spectators, pandemic obliges and with a minimum of persons per delegation in order to limit the risk of the spread of the coronavirus.
Inaugurated in 1997, the ESPN Wide World of Sports is property of the group Disney, broadcaster of the NBA, via the ABC network and the cable network ESPN, for approximately US $ 1.4 billion per year.
ESPN also owns part of the rights of the MLS, for which it pays, on the other hand, only a few tens of millions of dollars per year.
“The link with ESPN’s help, it is clear,” says Victor Matheson, a professor of sports economics at the university of the Holy Cross (Massachusetts), one being a diffuser of the other for almost 20 years (2002).
A sign of this strong relationship, Disney has opened in 2019, the NBA, Experience, kind of small, interactive museum of the league of basketball, in the heart of Disney World, park gigantic of more than 100 km2, or almost the size of San Francisco.
Promotion for Walt Disney World
But for the university, this is not the only reason which has seen the complex take on Las Vegas, Atlantic City or Nassau, Bahamas.
“They already have sports facilities which allow them to host more tournaments,” he said about the three covered rooms, with 18 pitches in total in the configuration basketball. And “they have experience”.
The complex has, indeed, been created primarily to host competitions of the junior and Disney has signed a 30-year contract with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), the primary organization of youth sports in the United States.
Las Vegas organizes every year the summer league of the NBA on the campus of the university of UNLV, but the two rooms are in the heart of town, while the WWS Disney is an autonomous city. Which simplifies, a priori, the management of health risks related to the COVID-19 and is working in a vacuum.
“You don accueilleriez no professional sport out there if your goal was to attract the public,” says Keith Smith, who has worked for Disney for nearly 20 years and now covers the NBA as a journalist.
None of the three rooms may not receive more than 8 000 people. “But for an event like this, with no spectators, this is perfect.”
Beyond the NBA and MLS will benefit from the hotel facilities of Walt Disney World, now deserted, because the park is closed, including both complex located a few hundred metres away, on the other side of a highway.
And even after the partial reopening of the park to visitors, to be held in July, there is no risk to tourists, and NBA players intersect.
“The parks are quite far away from the Wide World of Sports”, explains Keith Smith, who was the first to suggest publicly the idea of the coming of the NBA to Orlando. “And then, there is security at each entrance (of the complex). So nobody will approach teams in the NBA if there is not allowed.”
For Victor Matheson, this organization allows ESPN and the NBA to avoid an economic shock major. The american league loses about 40% of the revenues it generates to the counter, but saves almost a billion dollars of revenue television sets, according to the website the Athletic.
Next to Disney, the group will receive compensation from the NBA for the rental of the premises, board and lodging, but the important is elsewhere.
“They will be able to stream these matches, which, without it, would not have been played, and do a lot of promotion for Walt Disney World during the entire stay of the NBA there,” notes Keith Smith.
“So they are going to gain financially, but also in other forms.”