Toronto venue destination in and of itself


Toronto's new performance venue Image: Overactive Media

The esports and entertainment company OverActive Media (Canada) unveiled on October 29th the evolution of its plan for its previously announced performance venue, and secured lease terms approval from the Exhibition Place Board of Governors in Toronto, paving the way for a final review and approval by the Toronto City Council later this year.

The ‘Overactive Media’ quoted Chris Overholt, President and CEO of OverActive Media, as stating, “Over the past eight months, we have worked hand in hand with all of our City partners to bring our collective vision for the venue to the next level, and we could not be more excited to finally be able to share our latest plans with our fans in Toronto and the world. Toronto is one of the best entertainment markets in the world. We have worked closely with our partners to begin to realize the immense potential of this region of the City while furthering Toronto’s position as a global esports hub. Our vision is to create an unparalleled experience for fans and entertainment artistes alike.”

Toronto (Canada)-headquartered OverActive Media, previously known as The Ledger Group, is an Esports and Entertainment Company that fields teams across multiple esports titles through its subsidiaries, including the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League.

The Overwatch League is a professional esports league for the video game Overwatch, produced by its developer Blizzard Entertainment.

The Call of Duty League is a professional esports league for the video game series Call of Duty, produced by its publisher Activision.

Populous is a global design firm that designs the places where people love to be together. Over the last 38 years, the firm has designed more than 3,000 projects worth $40 billion across emerging and established markets. Populous’ comprehensive services include architecture, interior design, event planning and overlay, branded environments, wayfinding and graphics, planning and urban design, landscape architecture, aviation and transport design, hotels and hospitality, and sustainable design consulting.

Located in the heart of the historic Exhibition Place, the theater-style entertainment venue and hotel complex is a strategic element of the approved masterplan for the region previously established by City officials. Positioned on the North side of Lakeshore Boulevard and across from Ontario Place, the venue is expected to become the epicentre for what is starting to emerge as Toronto’s future meeting place for sports, media and entertainment.

Said Exhibition Place Board Chair and Councilor Mark Grimes, “Today, we are embracing an exciting vision of the future by approving OverActive Media’s plan and secured lease terms. On behalf of Exhibition Place’s Board of Governors, we will continue to build on our rich history and showcase innovative spaces in our ongoing evolution. I proudly welcome OverActive Media to create an engaging space to meet the needs of our diverse and dynamic community.”

The ‘Overactive Media’ further stated that with a projected completion date of 2025, the 7,000-seat venue is designed to be a destination at its core. The facility plans to host more than 200 events a year, driven primarily by premium music and entertainment bookings. It will also serve to attract major Citywide conventions, corporate events and product launches, awards shows and naturally, a full slate of esports events increasing over time. Additionally, it will provide a home for the City’s two professional esports teams, Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League and Toronto Defiant of the Overwatch League. Prior to the pandemic, OverActive Media had scheduled sold-out live events for its Overwatch League franchise, Toronto Defiant. As live events continue to return, there is a demand amongst premium acts of the world for the size and type of venue it plans to deliver.

Added Overholt, “We took a bold step forward together toward realizing our vision to build a pre-eminent performance venue in the City of Toronto, one that we believe will serve as a new home for the biggest music and entertainment acts of the world and a favorite venue for today’s generation of fans.”
Developed by global design firm Populous, the designs are purposeful, intended to create an engaging space for all fan activations, events and programing. Key design features and highlights include:

  • Located along the waterfront, the performance venue offers prominent open public space with stunning views and pedestrian access;
  • The in-bowl design caters to traditional music acts, large-scale events and the best in esports competition and entertainment;
  • The hotel tower offers unobstructed 360-degree views, including Lake Ontario and the remarkable Toronto skyline;
  • Situated between the venue and the hotel is a privately owned public space (POPS) – an urban room that joins the venue and hotel, allowing for additional programing opportunities and chance meetings to occur; and
  • The interior design of both the venue and the hotel offer authenticity and a refined sense of style, inclusive of distinct influences which are uniquely Toronto.

Said Jonathan Mallie, Senior Principal and Lead Designer for Populous, “Over the past several months, we’ve had the opportunity to engage with OverActive Media, the Exhibition Place Board of Governors and the City of Toronto to carefully choreograph the relationship between the venue, the hotel and a new urban room that connects the two. The design has evolved to further integrate a dynamic building program and expression into the fabric of Toronto.”

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