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#infocomm19: Will eSports arenas be the anchor tenants of future mixed-use developments?

The future growth of eSports arenas could see them becoming anchor tenants for mixed-use developments, driving socially integrated spaces, according to a speaker at Infocomm 2019 in Florida.

Marvin Mastin, of architecture group Populous – which specialises in designing stadium spaces for conventional sports, and is increasingly designing eSports arenas – says that worldwide revenues for Esports are expected to exceed $1.1bn this year.

While he cautions that statistics for the sector should be taken with a pinch of salt, saying that eSports is “like the Wild West”, he says that eSports venues have a unique ability to attract people and drive interaction.

He points to the redevelopment of the Arlington Convention Centre in Texas as an eSports venue, pointing out that the 100,000 sq ft gaming arena has become a popular attraction. But it is the public LAN (Local Area Network) gaming centre that has become “the heartbeat of the centre” he says.

Here people come to play and socialise, spending $6 per hour to play on a $35,000 computer system, see friends, connect with professional gamers, and engage in non-digital pastimes, such as playing pool.

Keen to promote social interaction, some games franchises are insisting that they will only run competitive tournaments with organisers who use a physical arena, says Mastin. The games brands recognise that, although watching streamed games is popular, it is attending a physical space that gives eSports their appeal.

Populous is currently developing the first purpose-built eSports venue in the US, the Fusion Arena in Philadelphia. This will feature a flexible and adaptive 3,500 seat arena, a LAN space, and a retail offer. It will also be connected to nearby retail and restaurant spaces with a new public area, helping to make the centre part of a broader attraction.

“It becomes an entwined entertainment district, with lots of venues and retail and restaurants, around a plaza,” he says.

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