I'm waaay late on this, but I've been a little pre-occupied. Anyway, I think that this is the sports media development of the year.
Not only does it make a ton of sense, but it's infinitely scalable -- local sports (and maybe local crime coverage) were the only thing keeping local papers going. Yoink.
Here's how ESPN should fill out the site strategy:
They already have a deal with By The Horns (a leading Bulls blog) -- cut more deals with leading bloggers of the Bears, Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, Notre Dame and Northwestern (think True Hoop Network, but by city vertical, rather than by sport vertical). The citizen-journalism/user-generated opportunities are endless (and inexpensive). They already own audio content. They already have a vast trove of recruiting content.
As always, success will come down to ad revenue. But the consumer value proposition -- and execution -- is a layup. Very very smart move.