MGM Resorts unsure of next usage for vacant ESPN Zone space

Long-time fans of the ESPN Zone at New York-New York weren’t the only people surprised by the sudden demise of the popular sports-themed restaurant and entertainment facility.

The folks at MGM Resorts International were also taken aback by the sudden departure. The ESPN Zone closed Tuesday night after the Los Angeles Lakers routed the Boston Celtics, 89-67, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

Some 160 workers were left unemployed by the closure.

Now, MGM Resorts officials need to figure out what to do with the 33,000-square-foot, multi-level space that opened in 2001.

New York-New York underwent numerous renovations in the past few years, but eliminating ESPN Zone was never in the plans.

MGM Resorts officials directed media inquiries to representatives for ESPN, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co. An ESPN senior vice president said in a statement, "A decision like this is never easy."

Last week, Disney blamed the battered economy for the decision to close five of its sports-themed restaurants, including the original ESPN Zone in Baltimore, and venues in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C., as well as Las Vegas.

The two remaining ESPN Zones in Los Angeles and Anaheim will stay open.

While tourists and locals lost a favorite spot to watch sports on the Strip, my brother Craig and I lost one of our favorite entertainment venues. We spent countless hours — and countless dollars — in the ESPN Zone’s 10,000-square-foot sports arena, challenging each other to the various interactive and competitive sports games and attractions.

I’m sad to see it go.


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