In a watershed moment for esports, the first dedicated, new-construction esports arena in the Western Hemisphere will be built in Philadelphia, with an opening date eyed in 2021.
According to NBC 10, the Comcast subsidiary Comcast Spectacor has announced plans to build Fusion Arena, a 3,500-seat, $50 million building that will be situated in the sports complex in South Philadelphia, near the city’s other arenas. The new arena will be home to the esports franchise Philadelphia Fusion, which competes in the Overwatch League.
“We’re thrilled to introduce a venue like no other as we move forward with the next phase of development within the Philadelphia Sports Complex,” Dave Scott, chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, said, per NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Fusion Arena gives Esports fans a best-in-class venue to call home and be proud of. Beyond competitive gaming, it’s a stunning facility that will host a wide array of events.”
The arena will be built adjacent to Xfinity Live, the indoor food court with bars set on the former site of the Spectrum sports arena. Also in the complex are the baseball stadium Citizen’s Bank Park, the football stadium Lincoln Financial Field, and the multipurpose arena, the Wells Fargo Center.
Unlike most sports stadiums, including the ones near it, the Fusion Arena does not appear to have required any public money for its planned construction.
There are other esports arenas in the U.S., including one in Santa Ana, California, as well as one in Arlington, Texas, and a third that was built into the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. However, the Philadelphia arena will be the first to be set in a newly constructed building with that exact purpose.
There is a $280 million “esports town” that opened last year in Hangzhou, China, per Fox Sports Asia. Esports is expected to be a sport in the 2022 Asian Games, which will be held in Hangzhou.
The Fusion Arena — one of the first, dedicated esports venues in the U.S. — will seat 3,500 video-game spectators nearby the other South Philly Sports Complex arenas. https://t.co/JCluX4Y1yr— PhillyVoice (@thephillyvoice) March 25, 2019
The Philadelphia Fusion, also owned by Comcast Spectator, were founded in 2017 as one of the original members of the Overwatch League.
This isn’t the first time this month that gaming and Philadelphia sports have intersected. Carlos Santana, a veteran Major League Baseball first baseman who played for the Phillies last year, admitted to ESPN that he had destroyed a clubhouse TV near the end of the 2018 season after he saw a group of Phillies players playing the popular video game Fortnite during games. Santana did not name the players.