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Comcast Spectacor To Build World's First Esports Arena In South Philly

A rendering of the $50M esports arena planned in South Philly by Comcast Spectacor

Philadelphia could soon be the home of the world's first arena purpose-built for esports.

On Thursday, Comcast Spectacor announced that it will be constructing a $50M arena for its participant in the international Overwatch League, the Philadelphia Fusion. Comcast subsidiary Spectacor and partner The Cordish Cos. are seeking a naming rights partner for the project, which carries the working title of Fusion Arena.

The arena will rise in the swath of parking lots in South Philly connecting all of the city's major sports stadiums, closest to multi-sectioned bar and entertainment venue Xfinity Live!. Planned to total 60K SF with seating for 3,500, the building will contain 10K SF set aside for training facilities, team offices and a broadcast studio. Construction is expected to begin this summer and finish in 2021, with Kansas City, Missouri-based firm Populous as lead architect.

Populous has previous experience designing the new Yankee Stadium, among other sports projects, including an in-progress redevelopment of the Arlington Convention Center in Texas into a 100K SF esports arena. The firm said in the release that it drew inspiration from gaming consoles in designing Fusion Arena. The 6K SF entryway will be adorned with a 2K SF "interactive media surface hovering 30 feet above" entrants.

A rendering of the interior of Comcast Spectacor's planned arena for the Philadelphia Fusion Overwatch team in South Philly.

Overwatch is a team-based, first person shooter, or FPS, game that was released by Activision Blizzard in 2016 and quickly rose to become one of the most popular video games on the planet. Blizzard's Overwatch League contains 20 teams across the U.S., Canada, China, England and France.

Spectacor and Cordish also plan to build an $80M, 250K SF office building in the same parking lot, as soon as they can secure an anchor tenant.

But dwarfing the two new-construction projects in terms of cost is the ongoing $250M renovation to the Wells Fargo Center, dubbed "Transformation 2020" in the press release. Spectacor owns the Wells Fargo Center and the Philadelphia Flyers, in addition to the Fusion. 

In addition to housing Overwatch League matches for the Fusion, Comcast and Cordish plan to host over 100 events per year between other gaming events, TED talks and Korean pop music, or K-Pop, concerts, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.