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Esports Team Owned By Cox Enterprises Buys Atlanta Property

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A new Cox Enterprises video game partnership looks to make it reign at a new facility in West Midtown.

Tournament super league
Recent League of Legends tournament in California held by Super League

The communications giant purchased a 1960s-era, single-story 13,200 SF warehouse in the Underwood Hills neighborhood just west of Atlantic Station for $2.27M, according to CoStar records.

The purchase was made under the name Atlanta Reign, the franchise team established by Cox Enterprises and Province Inc. in 2018 that competes professionally in tournaments for the Blizzard Entertainment first-person shooting game Overwatch.

Officials with Cox and Province didn't answer calls seeking comment, and it was unclear how the Atlanta Reign would specifically use the facility at 1290 Collier Road.

During its 2019 debut season, Atlanta Reign competed at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. In the coming 2020 season, home games are scheduled for two Atlanta weekends, playing at The Roxy at The Battery mixed-use project in Cobb County, near the Atlanta Braves' stadium, according to the team's website.

Cox, through its Atlanta Esports Ventures partnership, also is expected to launch an esports team in Atlanta for Call of Duty, the company announced in May.

“We have the opportunity to — once again — play a pivotal role in Atlanta's diverse esports community by bringing the future of Call of Duty esports to the city,” Atlanta Esports Ventures CEO Paul Hamilton said in a release at the time.

For companies like Cox, jumping into the world of competitive online gaming holds the promise of something more than just a rabid fan base. It also holds the promise of heaps of money. The one-time hobby has grown out of basements and bedrooms and into a multibillion-dollar entertainment industry.

Esports Team Owned By Cox Enterprises Buys Atlanta Property
1290 Collier Road, recently acquired by Atlanta Reign, Cox Enterprises' professional video game league

The global esports market is expected to grow to $1.15B in revenues between now and 2023, with the North American market surging 37%, according to the technology research company TechNavio. So far this year, the market has grown by more than 23%.

“Apart from the evolution of high-tech gaming consoles, the increase in esports betting and the rising number of esports events are other factors that are expected to boost market growth during the forecast period,” TechNavio analysts said in a report.

To the astonishment of many, thousands of spectators have paid to watch professionals and amateurs alike play in video game tournaments. For instance, the Overwatch League finals sold more than 20,000 tickets — selling out Barclays Center in Brooklyn — during its 2018 championship.

Competitors also are chasing big dollar prizes as well. At a recent Fortnite tournament, teams played for a prize pool of $30M, with the top winner taking home $3M alone.

In its first year of competition, the Atlanta Reign earned more than $470K in six tournaments, according to EsportsEarnings.com.

“It may not be the case that a particular game is the game that sticks around forever the way that basketball is basketball and football is football. But I think a lot of [the popularity of esports] is an attitude change,” Greenberg Glusker attorney Brandon Jackson said. "Now it's the cool thing."

Jackson sits on the board of Rumble Gaming, a content marketing agency that features video game tournament play as well as scripted shows around video gaming.

“I really think it's the future of entertainment,” he said.

This also is leading to a revolution in real estate, with companies now building facilities specifically tailored to the gaming world. Most recently, Millennial Esports Corp., a publicly traded Toronto-based gaming and data company, announced that it will open a 12K SF facility dedicated to simulated car racing in early 2020 in Miami.

Nerd Street Gamers inked a recent deal with retailer Five Below to create a string of esports facilities attached to its stores. And Simon Property Group recently formed a new partnership with esports promotion company Allied Esports to build gaming venues at some of its malls.

“The esport companies are looking for space to host tournaments in or to practice and that could be anything from warehouse to office space,” CBRE Senior Research Analyst David Nusbaum recently told Bisnow. Nusbaum is one of the authors of a recent CBRE report on the esports industry.

In Atlanta, Cox is among the bigger names behind esports teams and competitions, but it is far from the only one. Local game developers Blue Mammoth and Hi-Rez host tournaments for their game. The Atlanta Hawks have an officially sanctioned team that competes in the video game NBA2K.

In Georgia, more than 4,000 people now work in the video game industry, according to the Georgia Game Developers Association.

“If you believe that the growth of gaming is going to continue, well then, the question is, [will] the growth of esports continue? All the signs [are] pretty encouraging,” Super League Gaming Chief Commercial Officer Matt Edelman said.

Super League hosts various amateur-level video game tournaments at venues like Dave & Buster's, Buffalo Wild Wings and Topgolf. Edelman said his firm is riding the esports wave because more and more gamers are seeking a social outlet, versus just playing at home. Plus, gaming has become a generational fascination, with younger people playing alongside older generations.

“Gaming is not something you grow out of. You probably still enjoy playing games even into your later years,” Edelman said. “I mean, we have 50-year-olds at our events.”