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ESPN ZONE turns off the scoreboard, blames economy

Just got word that ESPN Zone, the 23,000-square-foot sports-centric playground and game center (and the only Denver link in the company's national chain) at 1187 16th Street, went dark today, exactly one day after Greg Goldfogel pulled the plug on Alto, the Northern Italian restaurant and live jazz venue at 1320 15th Street.

According to a letter from ESPN Zone management (quoted below in its entirety) that's posted on the restaurant's front door, grieving sports fans can fault the economy:

June 29, 2009

ESPN Zone Denver has discontinued its Downtown Denver business operation today.

Regynald Washington, vice president and general manager, Disney Regional Entertainment:

"The overall economics of continuing this operation were very challenging. We have enjoyed being a partner of the Denver community for the past eight years. We thank our loyal patrons and believe we provided our customers with a great experience."

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Rick Alessandri, senior vice president, ESPN, who oversees Zone operations for ESPN:

"A decision like this is never easy. We recognize and appreciate the commitment and years of service of all of these employees. Unfortunately, the current economic environment offered us no other choice."

ESPN Zone Denver opened its doors in December 2001 and had approximately 100 employees. Employees received a 60 day administrative leave package.

The upshot for sports junkies: This is Denver, where there are more sports bars than California transplants.

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