I took a short break from following golf and on Thursday February 25th and Friday February 26th I stayed at the Disney’s Beach Club Resort while attending a host of activities associated the rebranding of the Wide World of Sports complex, which is now called ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The complex holds a slew of youth sports and professional sports events annually (more than 300). Sprawling some 220 acres, the complex encompasses The Fieldhouse, a 165,000-square-foot facility with 5,500 seats for basketball; Champion Stadium ballpark with 11,500 seats where the Atlanta Braves hold spring training; 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.
Among the sport celebrities in attendance where NFLer’s Chad Ochocinco (Cincinnati Bengals), Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars), Garrett Hartley (New Orleans Saints), Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay Bucs), Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis Colts) Teddy Bruschi (formerly of the New England Patriots), soccer star Brandi Chastain, Olympic gold-medal gymnast Shawn Johnson, South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier, softball star Jennie Finch, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson, golf icon Annika Sorenstam and ESPN personalities Skip Bayless and Ron Jaworski. The celebs all strolled down a green not red carpet, which was staged to look like a football field.
Annika Sorenstam Update
It was great to see Annika Sorenstam at the Disney Wide World of Sports activities. Sorenstam is transitioning to an entrepreneur. She’s combining her passions-golf, fitness, fashion, cooking and wine—into various businesses under the ANNIKA brand. Heading her blossoming portfolio of business interests are a golf course architecture company, a golf academy at Ginn Reunion Resort in Orlando, a clothing line with Cutter & Buck, a signature perfume called “ANNIKA” and wines in partnership with Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California.
Disney Golf Update
I’m not sure if many golfers realize it but Disney has downscaled somewhat from five championship golf courses to four. The Eagle Pines layout designed by Pete Dye does not it exist anymore. The land is being utilized for a Four Seasons resort set to come on line in the future. Disney golf offerings include the Magnolia and Palm courses near Disney’s Polynesian Resort; Osprey Ridge near Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground; Lake Buena Vista near Downtown Disney; and the Oak Trail, a 9-hole, par-36 layout near Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Tiger Woods Endorsement Scoreboard Watch
Gatorade announced over the weekend that it’s dropping Woods as an endorser. If you’re keeping score at home, AT& T and Accenture has dumped Tiger and Gillette and Swiss watchmaker Tag Huer have de-emphasized him in their marketing programs. According to my records, still hanging in there with Woods are Nike, EA Sports, Golf Digest, NetJets, Tateer: The Tiger Woods Dubai, TLC Laser Eye Centers, Upper Deck and his wife Elin.