The end for Baltimore’s ESPN Zone

The closing of Baltimore’s ESPN Zone on Wednesday will not only leave 150 people unemployed, it will leave a huge hole in a premier, 170,000-square-foot downtown development in a still-recovering economy.

Owner Walt Disney Co. announced the shuttering of its five, standalone sports-themed restaurants on Wednesday. Roughly 1,000 employees nationwide at ESPN Zones in Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, New York and Las Vegas will be affected, according to Leigh Friedman, ESPN Zone’s regional marketing manager in Baltimore.

The Zone is a major tenant in the Inner Harbor’s Power Plant building, which was developed and reopened in 1997 by Baltimore-based The Cordish Cos. The restaurant was a founding tenant of the building, which had been closed for the 10 years prior, and in 1998, it was the first ESPN Zone to open in the country.

Zed Smith, a vice president of Cordish Co., said in a statement the Zone’s location makes it attractive to potential tenants.

“We will replace the ESPN Zone with an equally spectacular venue,” Smith said.

Apparel lifts Under Armour’s quarter

By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

Baltimore-based Under Armour Inc. beat analysts’ estimates and nearly doubled its fourth-quarter profit in 2009 — an increase helped by gains in its apparel business during the holiday season, the company said Thursday.

The results prompted the athletic apparel maker to raise its 2010 projections by 10 to 12 percent to between $945 million and $960 million.

The company’s fourth-quarter net income increased by 83 percent to $15.2 million, or 30 cents per share, compared with $8.3 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier. Under Armour also reported a 22.5 percent rise in its profit for the year, netting $46.7 million compared with $36.2 million in 2008.

This Super Bowl weekend, Under Armour taking grassroots marketing approach

Daily Record Business Writer
January 29, 2009 6:21 PM

When Pittsburgh and Arizona square off Sunday in Super Bowl XLIII, it will be the finale to weeks of anticipation and media coverage, and one Baltimore company is looking to again cash in on the buzz.

After paying big bucks for a Super Bowl television ad last year to announce its cross-trainer shoe — then seeing its share price fall partly in response — Under Armour is taking a grassroots approach this year in Tampa to marketing its new running shoe on the sporting world’s biggest stage.

The athletic apparel company’s senior vice president for brand, Steve Battista, said a television ad this year just didn’t fit into the strategy for the shoe’s launch Saturday.

“Remember last year, no one had ever even seen what Under Armour [non-cleated] footwear looked like,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The Super Bowl is great for that.”

Instead, Under Armour sent a team of salespeople and athletes to market the new product at the NFL Experience — the Super Bowl’s fanfest at Raymond James Stadium — through activities and athlete demonstrations. Visitors can test out the new shoe in a 40-yard dash and in training sessions, or browse Under Armour’s retail section which will include the new shoes on Saturday.