Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson, NFL star Chad Ochocinco, LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam, NFL star Maurice Jones-Drew, Olympic softball gold medalist Jennie Finch and 2009s Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes were just a few of the athletes in attendance along with several popular ESPN personalities and Florida governor Charlie Crist. Instead of a Hollywood-style red carpet, the celebrities walked a turf carpet painted with yard lines to resemble a football field. The sports complex, already the leading multi-sports venue in the nation, was officially re-launched when New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl champion kicker Garrett Hartley booted a football, held by Minnie Mouse, over the complex entrance gate amid waves of fireworks and confetti.
Afterwards, the celebrity athletes and ESPN talent attended a private reception at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. Then some of them watched a special performance by the Harlem Globetrotters and even got into the act.
The complex at Disney was re-designed with the signature elements of ESPN – 56 HD video cameras, 40 HD video screens, 20-zone audio system, ESPN SportsCenter desk – that create a one-of-a-kind ESPN-style youth sports experience for the two million athletes, coaches and fans who come to the complex each year. Now, in addition to playing on the same fields and courts as some of the biggest names in sports, youth athletes who compete at the sports complex will also feel as if they’ve reached the “big-time’’ and made it onto ESPN.
Geez, where was all of this when we were kids?
*Check in tomorrow for a photo and video recap of the event