As esports becomes a booming business, a first-of-its-kind professional-level esports space has opened at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Home to the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and NBA’s 76ers among other sports, the busy venue is adding another to its roster with professional gaming. The Wells Fargo Center has teamed up with national esports infrastructure company, Nerd Street Gamers, as well as Comcast Spectator to install a Localhost, marking the first major sports arena in the United States will host an esports center as an amenity for event attendees.
Localhosts are esports facilities that feature the same high-powered computers that professional gamers use in major tournaments. Wells Fargo Center will be equipped with professional-grade PC and console gaming stations and will be open before, during, and after events for Wells Fargo Center patrons. The area features a dedicated separate entrance and will host competitive gaming events in conjunction with event theme nights and special ticket packages for groups and gaming communities.
On select days in which there are no other events at the Wells Fargo Center, the area will host competitive gaming tournaments making it an esports destination all year long. These special events held throughout the year will feature competitions, retro gaming contests, discounted food and drink, and an expanded space within the arena.
“We’re connecting traditional sports and esports for fans because there’s a direct connection between their love for their favorite traditional sports franchises and their love for video games,” said Rob Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of Nerd Street Gamers. “At the Wells Fargo Center, fans will now have access to the excitement of their favorite teams coupled with the thrill of their favorite games.”
The necessity for dedicated esports venues is leading to traditional sporting stadia to rethink how to incorporate esports to capture its massive market. Plans for an esports arena have been revealed in early design renderings of Spanish soccer side Real Madrid FC’s Santiago Bernabeu renovation. Elsewhere, entire facilities are being built solely for esports events, with venues such as Populous’ Esports Arlington venue, which cost around US$10m to build.