Designated eSports Arenas: The Next Indoor Sports Venue Trend?

Design professionals, contractors and suppliers have seen all kinds of trends in the sports facility industry: rock climbing gyms, CrossFit boxes, pickleball courts … the list goes on.

The latest trend is the purpose-built eSports venue: just as it sounds, a place designed for one thing: players who sit at computers and compete in front of screaming crowds. And before you write it off as a fad, consider this: a 15,000-square-foot facility built this fall in Santa Ana, California, is packing them in week after weekand a SECOND 15,000-square-foot arena that just opened in Las Vegas is already bringing in international events.

Oh, and did we mention the U.S. isn’t leading the charge in this emerging sport? The tiny town of Katowice in Poland has left everyone in the dust, hosting championships for the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) League of Legends,  Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and StarCraft II. Collectively, the event is dubbed IEM Katowice, and it’s considered the Super Bowl of eSports, with live streams on multiple platforms that reach an estimated audience of 40 million viewers. More than 125,000 attendees were expected; that’s almost half of Katowice’s population of 300,000.

The industry is expanding on an almost explosive basis. According to an article in the L.A. Times, “playing video games has grown so competitive that 11,000 people last month flocked to Madison Square Garden to watch the finals of a “League of Legends” tournament. Millions more spectators gathered in living rooms, bars, movie theaters and restaurants to watch the live stream. It’s adding up to a fast-growing business, with $612 million in worldwide revenue expected this year from sponsorships, ticket fees and merchandise sales, according to gaming consultancy SuperData Research.”

Convention centers and other indoor multi-purpose arenas can be counted on to continue hosting – at least while the industry gets itself up to speed.

Sounds like eSports could be short for “emerging” or “evolving” sports as well.

Purpose-built facilities for eSports competition can also offer regular memberships and guest passes, which opens the door for hosting leagues, drop-in play and more. Plus, there’s the undeniable appeal of the chance to compete on a big stage – even at the local level.

Have any ASBA members been involved in the design, construction or supply side of the burgeoning eSports facility industry? We’d love to know!

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