This Chinese stadium is exclusively dedicated to esports



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Zhongxian e-sports stadium Image: Barrie Ho/scmp.com

China has built the world’s first sports venue dedicated exclusively to e-sports.

Designed by Hong Kong architect Barrie Ho, the Zhongxian esports stadium in southwestern China’s Chongqing municipality is purpose-built for the emerging genre of sports that has in recent times drawn more people online than even the NBA.

“The number of people watching esports online is higher than the number watching the NBA,” Ho was quoted by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post daily as saying.

The 60,000 sq-ft stadium has a seating capacity of 20,000. The stadium has installed curtain glass walls lined by transparent LED screens that turn the entire building into an enormous video display for those unable to get a seat inside. The stadium has two wing-shaped halls extending out from an arena with 7,000+ seating capacity.

Ho says the design also serves a more utilitarian purpose since the atmosphere of e-sports competition demands lots of flexible space for fans to gather. Along with an outdoor plaza, the wings can accommodate an additional 13,000 people on top of those seated in the arena.

“Everybody thinks e-sports is about two people playing a game online. It’s not like that. It’s like a carnival,” Ho emphasized.

The SCMP claimed e-sports to be even more than that: It’s a phenomenon. Citing a study by market tracking company Newzoo, the report projected that 427 million people will be watching competitive video gaming in 2019.

The most-watched esports event in 2017 – the Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, Poland – drew a whopping 46 million viewers. According to the SCMP report, e-sports are even being considered for inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In 2014, more than 45,000 fans crowded into Seoul’s World Cup Stadium to watch the League of Legends World Championship. Last summer, each of the nearly 20,000 seats in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre were sold out for three days of competitions. Video game company Blizzard Entertainment has already opened dedicated esports halls in Taipei and Los Angeles.

China has over 600 million gamers and its esports market value reached 5 billion yuan last year and this will grow to 8.48 billion yuan this year, according to the 2018 China E-sports Development Report.

This was published by Tencent E-sports, Penguin Intelligence and China Electronic Athletics magazine at the Global esports Leaders Summit and Tencent E-sports Annual Conference in Shanghai last month.

By 2020, the market value is expected to exceed 20 billion yuan. Last year, there were 250 million Chinese gamers and this figure is expected to rise to 300 million by 2020.

North America and China are the two major pillars of the global e-sports industry, accounting for 37 percent and 15 percent of the market respectively, according to the report.

In 2016, China’s esports income growth rate hit 56 percent, 4 percent higher than the global average, and the industry has reacted accordingly.

More in-depth deliberations on e-sports and its eventual fallout on the stadium industry are expected at the forthcoming Coliseum Summit ASIA-PACIFIC, October 24-25, 2018, Beijing, China.

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