E-sports are becoming ever more popular, with the global gaming and e-sports communities estimated to number 1.93 billion and 368 million respectively. At the same time, the number of people competing and watching e-sports is estimated to be growing 17% year-on-year.

There has been an explosion of participation in both competitive gaming from the amateur level, usually through online play, through to professional e-sports which culminate in live event finals. The final of the FIFA eWorld Cup 2019 will be held at the O2 in London in August, with the winner taking home a cool $250 million.

The increased interest amongst game publishers, rights holders and sports franchises for dedicated e-sports facilities reflects this continued growth in gaming.

The Populous-designed Fusion e-sports Arena

Dedicated venues

Dedicated e-sports facilites are being developed across the globe. South Korea is building a stadium and park devoted to e-sports in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, south off the capital Seoul, befitting its reputation as the global leader in e-sports. 

The building will have a 400-seat main stadium and a 50-seat sub stadium, with an area for professional gamers, a PC room, a studio, a multi-purpose complex, a gift shop, and drop-in center for game addiction prevention. 

In the US, a $50 million, next-generation e-sports and entertainment venue is being built in the heart of the Philadelphia Sports Complex. Adjacent to Xfinity Live!, the first-of-its-kind venue will seat up to 3,500 guests and stand as the largest new-construction, purpose-built e-sports arena in the Western Hemisphere. Its primary tenant, the Philadelphia Fusion Esports franchise, is one of 20 international teams competing in the Overwatch League.

E-sports venue concept

Meanwhile, Arup and Gfinity are teaming up to design a world-leading integrated e-sports venue. The two companies will combine their skills and resources to develop a blueprint for a scalable, specialist playing, watching, training, learning and broadcast facility which will enable gamers of all levels to come together, share experiences and compete.

Both companies are confident that their thought leadership and technical expertise in creating the blueprint will lead to an organisation choosing to bring the concept to life, delivering the world’s most advanced integrated e-sports arena.

HOK’s e-sports auditorium

Chris Dite, associate director at Arup, said: “The latest thinking on integrated e-sports facilities is high on the agenda of a number of our largest clients. The focus of the project is to create facilities that exceed the expectations of the professional players, the aspirational professionals, the amateurs who want to compete in a fun, safe environment and the fans who support their teams. No one understands this audience better than Gfinity.

“It is not just about the arena where the stars play. It also includes the learning, fitness and nutritional centres that they need to access to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The facility will also include residential spaces where thousands of aspirational professionals can come throughout the year to learn their craft.” 

It is not just about the arena where the stars play. It also includes the learning, fitness and nutritional centres that they need to access to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Chris Dite

Fast-growing sector

Global design firm HOK and software company SAP have also recently published a new research report exploring the future of e-sports venues. they estimate over 450 million people will view an e-sports event in 2019, making it one of the fastest-growing sectors in the global sports and entertainment industry.

“Developing the Esports Arenas of the Future” explores the factors driving this explosive growth, the unique audience and how the e-sports venue of tomorrow will look very different than traditional sports facilities. Key design features explored in the report include: A non-traditional seating bowl; An immersive environment; Reimagined geometries and spatial organization; More intimacy A blending of technology with the built environment; Hospitality-driven experiences.

Nuno Guerreiro, an architect at HOK and co-author of the report, said: “Purpose-built venues have historically had a significant impact in establishing a sport in a culture and community. “Because of the length of these events and technological requirements, e-sports have a unique audience seeking more connected, hands-on experiences. Architects and designers have an opportunity to rethink every aspect of the traditional sports and entertainment environment—from a building’s location and form down to the seat.”

The e-sports juggernaut looks set to carry on rolling.