NLAE venues go-to tech destinations



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Luc Delany at Coliseum Europe Image: Luc Delany & Northern Lights Arena Europe

Luc Delany has spent nearly 20 years working around the globe with the world’s leading technology and gaming companies. A techie through and through, he has had stints with technology firms Microsoft and Apple and then went on to work with Google for three years and Facebook for three years. For the last 10 years, Delany has been advising the video game industry which is gradually developing a flavor of its own.

At the Northern Lights Arena Europe (NLAE), Delany plays a leading role in the delivery of major arena projects across the United Kingdom, including the world-leading multipurpose esports venue planned at the Dundee Waterfront in Dundee, Scotland (UK).
 

Northern Lights Arena Europe (NLAE)

The Northern Lights Arena Europe (NLAE) leverages creative technologies, education and entertainment to create world-class multipurpose digital arenas. Born out of parent-company Chiltern Management Group (CMG) and based on years of experience in the infrastructure and entertainment sectors, NLAE is reimagining the future of venues.

In an exclusive chat with ‘Coliseum’, Luc Delany, COO and Creative Technology Director, Northern Lights Arena Europe, UK, gives an insight into NLAE’s planned Dundee (Scotland) esports arena and also talks about NLAE reimagining the future of venues and according highest priority to improving the lives of the local community.

He shot off by stating that the Northern Lights Arena was started three years back to bring innovation in the arena space.
 

NLAE mission

  • NLAE leverage creative technologies, education and entertainment to create world-class multipurpose arenas;
  • NLAE is developing technology-enabled multipurpose hubs to improve the lives of the local community and beyond; and
  • NLAE venues create an ecosystem linking with FE and HE pathways, creating long-term sustainable employment opportunities and responds to the national shortage in technological skills.

 
A person with a scientific bent of mind, Luc Delany stated that “Traditional arts, creative industries and futuristic technology should be blended to create cutting-edge live experiences.”
 

Education

  • Education is at the heart of NLAE’s mission. Digital skills and fluency are key for future generations; and
  • NLAE venues not only provide a world-class venue, but create an ecosystem establishing education pathways (both for Higher Education and Further Education) to create long-term sustainable employment opportunities and skills development for the local area they are based in.

 
He explained, “We give stress on education because technology is going through constant innovation and this applies in the case of entertainment too. There is no business in the world which does not need some form of technology these days. We want our venues to be tech-loaded and tech bells and whistles in a venue can draw more visitors.”

He informed that the NLAE is working with further education, high schools, secondary schools, and higher education – universities and also lifelong learning – people who are reskilling, learning new crafts.

Stated Delany, “There is a tech skill shortage all over the globe. So, why not use a venue that is highly technically capable as a venue for learning.”
 

Esports

Esports and video gaming is set to become extremely sophisticated and experiencing them at an arena demands a highly technical, end-to-end digital experience. Everything about gaming with NLAE will be ‘the future today’, inspiring users and sponsors to meet in a new world of virtual adventure.

Video gaming is the largest entertainment sector in the world. It is bigger than music, TV and film combined with global revenues of $178bn. There are gamers of all ages with 25-40-year-olds reporting they game more than participating in any other form of leisure activity.

Esports is simply competitive gaming and has taken the world by storm in recent years. Global esports revenues were US$1.1bn in 2020, with a global audience of 495 million. Global revenues are projected to reach US$1.5bn by 2023.
 

Why gaming is important to NLAE

  • Video gaming is the largest entertainment sector in the world;
  • Global esports revenues are projected to reach US$1.5bn by 2023; and
  • Around 36 percent of gamers worldwide are between the ages of 26-40 and 67 percent of esports spenders have a full-time job.

 
He added, “Our venues are these created technology hubs and gaming is one of the most tech-hungry industries. Because of COVID gaming has become even more popular and trends accelerated. The global gaming market is now close to 200 billion dollars worldwide. Gaming is bigger than films, television and music combined – that’s huge.”

Delany said that people who are into video gaming train really hard to play for large prize pools in gaming – “So, it encompasses the most creative technologies and uses an incredible amount of different tech and it’s pretty creative, incredibly compelling and people who watch esports have money, they go to venues and they are big spenders. Gaming is massive and very popular among people in the age group of 30 to 40.”
 

Digital age

There is an opportunity to harness the ever-increasing popularity of esports and the wider digital world, to create digital arenas which will integrate the best of esports, gaming technology and hospitality and propel us into a new digital age.
 

Tech arenas

The NLAE arenas are multipurpose: From esports, and live-streaming concerts, to ‘hybrid’ conferences and productions. Fitted with cutting-edge technology the venues will become established education centers, and students will benefit from access to the world-leading technology and expertise.
 

What is a 21st century venue?

  • Production and events needs have changed;
  • Consumer expectations have increased;
  • Consumer entertainment choices have increased; and
  • … whilst there is a national technological skills shortage.

 
The 21st century venues are digitally enhanced entertainment, community and education hubs.
 

Discerning consumer

Pointed out Delany, “Consumer expectations have increased. They are like – ‘The app is fine but it does not actually tell me on which end are the North end and the South end of the arena. It doesn’t actually tell me where the food is that I want, it doesn’t tell me how to get to the arena, it doesn’t let me pay through the app.”

He continued, “And, of course, our entertainment choices are also fast increasing. The number of subscriptions that we are expected to pay for is uncomfortably high but we consume things differently too. And again, all of this increase with technological needs. So, we want our venues to be digitally advanced. They should be ready for streaming at any time of the day. We also want people to spend more time in the venues.”
 

Fan behavior

The present crops of fans do not like to watch a game for three to four days at a stretch just like the game of cricket. They would rather watch two different games in two different venues on the same day.

Fans come to the venue looking for gourmet food which they can enjoy in the eateries and they are ready to open up their purse strings.

He wanted to drive home the fact from the above that venues should be so designed today that they cater to the taste of Gen Z. In a mixed-use venue, the community benefits in the form of people coming to stay in the hotels and dine in the restaurants.
 

Dundee Arena – a case study

  • Build on and accelerate Dundee’s rich gaming heritage;
  • Working alongside Esports Scotland to facilitate and grow Scottish esports; and
  • Building on Abertay University’s gaming curriculum, which is top in the whole of Europe.

 

Gaming glory

Dundee is a small City in Scotland and it is the birthplace and home of many incredible video game startups and is the best City in Europe to study video game design. It is the video game capital of Europe.
 

Great video games

Dundee video game companies have to their credit creating video games like the Grand Theft Auto – one of the bestselling video game series of all time and Lemmings, another hit title from the City.
 

Abertay University

Dundee is home to the incredible Abertay University. This university has been a great place for up and coming video game developers and designers. Abertay is also the first university in the world to introduce a degree in video game design.

Asserted Delany, “Dundee is an incredible City with a long history in video games and is also one of United Kingdom’s leading cyber hubs. It also boasts rich history and culture.”
 

Dundee esports arena

The Northern Lights Arena Europe (NLAE) is spearheading the Dundee esports arena project.

The multipurpose arena at Dundee Waterfront will have between 3,500-4,000 seats and will host live music concerts, best comedy shows, conferences, and esports events. The estimated cost of the build is between $54-81 million. It was initially projected to open in 2024, but Delany stated, “We are hoping to open the arena in 2025 as long as the ground conditions for the building are right. We are aiming for 1,500 seats.”

He pointed out that the opening will slip to 2025 as “We are building an out-of-the-box venue. It’s simply because what we are doing is quite new and complicated. This is not just a box with some seats. We are creating a venue that is designed to have the very best streaming infrastructure. We are working with global technology partners to make this happen.”

The venue will have digital connectivity at its heart with the ability to livestream every event.

Delany concluded by informing, “The NLAE is going to build the Dundee esports arena as a center of excellence so that it can attract people from all over the world and bring in further tech innovation. Young students will come to the gaming café every day and will become part of a creative technology and entertainment community.”

Luc Delany promised that the Dundee esports arena will be a world-class venue where gaming buffs will be able to learn the ABC of esports.

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