Esports May Soon Have a Brand New Home in the United Kingdom
The Millennium Mills is a barren industrial site containing a derelict flour mill and an old facility for grain storage in the Docklands of East London. Despite this, the Silvertown Partnership envisions a European esports center. This is a group specializing in property development, and they plan to build a competitive arena for gaming including fan zones, player lodging, and a magnificent arena. The project will be alongside masses of office space, 3,000 homes, waterfront restaurants, and encompass 300,000 square feet.
Ben Reed is leading the project as the head of the brand for the developers. His inspiration comes from visits he has made to venues worldwide. He envisions the arena with two-decks, capable of seating 2,500 people, and this will comprise the building's heart. This will be like a miniature version of Rome’s Colosseum, and capable of hosting the majority of the esports events. Esports events have been hosted in London for many years, and in 2014 the Wembley arena was filled with 12,500 fans for the League of Legends. During the same year, Gfinity 3 was hosted by the Copper Box Arena in Olympic Park and can hold 7,500 fans.
According to Ben Reed, the event organizers, teams, and fans want a venue dedicated to gaming. This will be provided by the Silverton site seven days every week. He feels using the Copper Box, or Alexandra Palace will create issues with items being brought it, or there will already be weekend bookings. He said the industry simply wants their kit within a static location. The Gfinity Arena is another facility in London dedicated to esports. The location is in Fulham, West London, but since it is in a Vue cinema, the capacity is only 600. Although the atmosphere is good, it is far from glamorous, and Silvertown will be roomier, and flashier.
Matches will be cast by the commentators from studios, there will be space dedicated for the players to prepare for the matches, and hotel-style lodgings for the players including hot tubs will be provided during the tournaments. The space for training will not be limited to the competing teams. Ben Reed insists the academy accommodate budding talent, including local children. This is where they will be able to improve their skills. There will be numerous areas in the building for fan to purchase drinks, and food between the matches since many fans consumer five, or six pints daily. A groceries pop-up or McDonald’s pop-up on the ground floor are being considered. This floor should draw fans even when there is no match in progress, and shops will sell games, tournament merchandise, and hardware.
Late-stage discussions are taking place between the Silvertown Partnership and a VR company interested in occupying space on the ground floor. They are interested in showing their HTC Vive hardware to businesses, although the consumers may also be interested in these products as well. Putting on a VR headset for a few hours is a viable alternative to playing miniature golf. The arena will be located above the ground floor, along with the offices for companies involved with gaming, and esports, and the training space. The types of companies expected to be interested in the location are Epic Games and Twitch. The expectations are the glue for the building will be provided by a company responsible for the organization of numerous tournaments. This may be an organization like Fnatic, with teams in various sports, or a video game publisher.
The location may be perfect for Cloud9. This is the London team for the Overwatch League participating in the upcoming match. The teams in this league travel across the world for the competitions. There is no definitive answer as to whether Ben Reed is speaking with Cloud9 regarding using Silvertown to host their matches. According to Ben Reed, all the United Kingdom’s major teams are being spoken with. The plan Ben Reed envisions is still in progress, but the building is most likely going to house broadcasters, publishers, game developers, and more. There are additional quirky uses as well. This may include some events by Red Bull, an occupancy for six-months, or a brand experience from Gillette. There is studio broadcasting space for multi-channel networks, relationships are being built, and people are being shortlisted. Due to many interesting factors, the list remains open.
The new esports companies for the hub are still unknown, but there is excitement regarding the location in the famous docks of London. The expectation is competitive gaming in the United Kingdom will have a brand-new home.