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A 3,500-seat Comcast esports arena is under construction and they’re paying a hefty price for it: an even $50 million. If you’re at all curious as to why a cable company is building an esports arena, the answer is simple: Comcast owns the Philadelphia Fusion team in the Overwatch League. The company has spent at least half of the arena’s price on acquiring an Overwatch League franchise in the first place, so throwing down a few million more is a strong indication that they’re in it for the long haul.
“This is a huge step for esports,” said Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer to philly.com. “This is something we will see pop up all over the world.”
The Overwatch League will be watching the Comcast Esports Arena closely, as it’s intended to be the home of the Philadelphia Fusion, one of the original 12 teams in Blizzard Entertainment’s premier esports league for their first-person shooter Overwatch. The Comcast Esports Arena will be placed next to Xfinity Live! in Philadelphia. It will also be within walking distance of several Philadelphia attractions including the Linc, Citizens Bank Park, and the Wells Fargo Center.
While a 3,500-seat arena is certainly impressive, it would be a bit of a waste to solely use it for a dozen or so Overwatch League games every year. The company intends to make use it for other esports events as well. These can include exhibition matches or show matches, one-off tournaments, and perhaps even standard play for other leagues, depending on what future arrangements are made.
“The East Coast does not have a hub for gaming,” said Joe Marsh, chief business officer for Spectacor Gaming and the Philadelphia Fusion. The construction of this new arena will represent the opening salvo in what’s likely to be a flurry of construction as Overwatch League teams attempt to secure homes for themselves. The league is expected to transition to traditional home and away games as early as the third season of the league which is scheduled to begin in early 2020.
The property developers will break ground on the Comcast esports arena sometime in the Summer of 2019. In the meantime, esports fans will have to catch matches online or hope that one of their favorite teams makes a showing at an established venue.