Professional gamers on the East Coast will soon have a stadium to call home. Philadelphia and Comcast announced plans to build a $50 million, 60,000-square-foot stadium dedicated to esports, set to open in 2021.
The new stadium will be the home of Fusion, Comcast’s Overwatch League team, as well as a hub for East Coast gaming events. It will seat 3,500 and rest in the city's 47-acre stadium complex, down the street from the home of baseball’s Phillies and football’s Philadelphia Eagles. The message of the location is clear—esports may be new, but it’s quickly becoming just as popular as other, more traditional sports.
The new stadium will be the first building constructed for the explicit purpose of hosting esports, but it’s not America’s first esports stadium. That honor belongs to Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas—a 100,000-square-foot facility built in a converted event space. The Texas stadium seats 3,000 and cost $10 million to construct. It opened in November 2018 with a game of Rocket League between Arlington’s mayor and the president of NGAGE Esports—the developer behind the stadium. NGAGE Esports president won the match.
Esports Stadium Arlington is more than just a tournament space. Arlington—part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex—is a hub of esports professionals. Several local colleges sponsor their own esports team and Southern Methodist University runs the Guildhall, a school dedicated to video game design.
From Starcraft 2 to Fortnite, watching people play competitive video games is becoming an American pastime. More people watched the Dota 2 International than the Daytona 500. Economists predict that pro-esports will become a billion dollar business in 2019, with almost 40 percent of that business happening in the United States.