COMCAST SPECTACOR / CORDISH / POPULOUS (3,500 seat video gaming arena) is coming to South Philadelphia in 2021
Philadelphia Inquirer – “Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers, [announced] Monday morning that it will construct the first arena for gaming fans in the U.S. for the Comcast-owned Fusion (Overwatch League)”, company officials [reported].
“The $50 million project is a testament to the surging popularity of eSports, in which players compete in video games before large crowds. The company plans to break ground this summer on part of the 47-acre stadium complex site that Comcast Spectacor leases in South Philadelphia. The 3,500-seat arena will rise on a parking lot, next to Xfinity Live! and within walking distance of the Linc, Citizens Bank Park, and the Wells Fargo Center.”
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— Poko (@poko) September 12, 2018
Nate Nanzer, the commissioner of the 20-team ‘Overwatch League’, stated that there has never been a special-purpose eSports arena “built anywhere. This is a huge step for eSports. This is something we will see pop up all over the world.”
Facts About the Overwatch League and Fusion. “Esports, or watching highly skilled gamers compete with each other for titles or prize money, has soared in popularity globally, particularly in Asia but also in the U.S. The Overwatch League replicates the legacy professional sports model with 20 city-based franchises in China, South Korea, Canada, France, England and the U.S. catering to local fans.
Overwatch League competitions — with six gamers battling six others in a survival game — are viewed over the Twitch streaming service and televised on ABC and ESPN. Activision Blizzard, which owns the Overwatch game, says that 40 million people play globally, including 400,000 in the Philadelphia television market ranging from Delaware and the Jersey Shore to Harrisburg. Fusion itself has almost 100,000 Twitter followers and one of its popular players, Gael Gouzerch, or @poko, boasts 40,600.” The Overwatch League regular season began in February and extends through August, with playoffs and championship games in September.
(Tucker Roberts, the son of Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts, is president of Spectacor Gaming and the Fusion).
“Comcast Spectacor expects to hold about 120 events a year in the new arena, with other gigs ranging from TED Talks to electronic dance music and K-pop concerts. K-pop is a music genre from South Korea that is popular with Fusion fans”, Comcast Spectacor officials said. The Fusion Arena is looking to sell naming rights to the venue.
What this could mean? It is hard to believe, but eSports is poised to be larger than the NFL and NBA and MLB. The top eSports players are earning more already than some of the top professional athletes. Sounds just crazy, but welcome to a new world. The Spectacor is for real. Populous, the architectural firm, also designed the new Yankee Stadium, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the main stadium for the London Olympics. “15% of the Fusion Arena will have premium-priced luxury seating and suites” said Dave Scott, CEO of Comcast Spectacor.
Our industry had better take this seriously and start thinking about ways we can get even a small slice of eSports. The NFL and NBA owners are currently having serious discussions about how to use their empty arenas (when their teams are not playing) for eSports and how much money they need to put up for prizes. FCDN recently reported on the initial success of Virtuix Omni VR Arena at Pinballz where it has been averaging $1000/day with $2000 weekly eSports tournaments among only a couple of dozen locations. Maybe it is time for our industry to start going out and finding sponsors for regional and national eSports tournaments at family entertainment centers???? Any interest from AMOA or AAMA, BPAA or IAAPA? How about all 4 get together?