MLS Joins Disney For Relaunch of ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex

January 23, 2010: Major League Soccer said that four of its clubs, including 2009 Western Conference champion Houston Dynamo, have been invited to participate in the relaunch of the  ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Florida.

The four teams - Houston,  FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC - will compete in the inaugural Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic on Feb. 25-27. The Soccer Classic is part of a four-day event that will officially unveil the expanded and rebranded complex during ESPN the Weekend presented by Dick's Sporting Goods.

On Feb. 25, the Dynamo will play the Red Bulls and Dallas will face Toronto. The winners will meet in the championship game on Feb. 27 after a third-place game earlier in the day.

"Bringing four Major League Soccer teams to Central Florida to play in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic is very exciting and a big win for all of our local soccer players, fans, parents and spectators," Patrick Dicks, Disney Sports Area Manager, said in a statement. "ESPN The Weekend is serving as a major platform for these teams to prepare for the upcoming season and we are proud to have them be a part of this re-branding weekend."

Feb. 25 also will see a performance by The Harlem Globetrotters and live broadcasts of such ESPN shows as Baseball Tonight and NFL Live.

Virtual images of Kobe (L) and LeBron (R) with sports analyst Jon Barry at the Innovation Lab. (Photo: DIsney)The  sports complex, which opened in 1997, has been undergoing substantial  changes to incorporate signature ESPN elements, high-definition video cameras and video screens, two Jumbotrons, a 2,500-square-foot broadcast production facility with a direct uplink to ESPN in Bristol, Conn. and an Innovation Lab being used by ESPN and Disney. Among the technology being developed are computer breakdowns of games using virtual images of such players as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Other features that will debut with the complex’s February relaunch include an ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill and the ESPN Clubhouse for gear and memorabilia purchases. An in-room sports channel dedicated to the ESPN Wide World of Sports will feature custom programming, including show segments and interviews filmed at the complex, will also make its debut on digital tier. February also will see the arrival of MLB's Atlanta Braves, which use the facilities for spring training.

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