Walt Disney World has within it four amusement parks, two water parks, over two dozen hotels…and a massive sports facility? The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, capable of hosting over 70 types of sports, covers over 220 acres and includes, according to Forbes, “a 9,500-seat ballpark, 16 softball fields, 18 multi-purpose outdoor fields, a track and field complex, 10 tennis courts and three indoor arenas.” The target for these facilities are not professionals, though, but rather youths. After all, young athletes bring their families with them, and that means more people staying at Disney hotels and attending other Disney events.
Of course, with The Wide World of Sports hosting the NFL Pro Bowl Week and the Invictus Games, it’s clear that young athletes aren’t the only intended audience. These sporting events attract over 150,000 athletes, coaches, and fans each year—most of whom wouldn’t have visited Disney otherwise. Tens of thousands more athletes and spectators also visit to attend more than seven cheer and dance team events, including Varsity Brand’s Universal Cheerleading Association National High School Cheerleading Championship.
It is the cheerleading events that caused Disney World to expand their facilities. Cheerleading events once housed in football-field sized outdoor tents are now held in an 8,000 seat, 300,000 square foot indoor arena. That’s a space four times larger than the flagship arena. And it was designed specifically with cheerleading in mind.
From spring training for the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball Team to the AAU national championships and the NBA’s new Jr. NBA World Championships, the Wide World of Sports Complex is the place to play and enjoy watching a wide variety of sports, both nationally and internationally, from youth sports to professional sports. With this facility, Disney is assured a hefty chunk of the sports tourism market for a long time to come.