Comcast Spectacor is one step closer to changing the sporting landscape in Philadelphia after it broke ground on its $50 million esports stadium Wednesday.
The groundbreaking ceremony marks the next step in the development of the 3,500-seat Fusion Arena, a dedicated competitive gaming stadium that will rise in the heart of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex.
"Fusion Arena changes the dynamics of sports as we know it. As esports continue to grow across the world, Philadelphia now will be a hub for international competition," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said at Wednesday's ceremony.
The 60,000 square-foot arena, slated to open in 2021, will feature a training facility and will play host to local professional team Philadelphia Fusion — already owned by Comcast Spectacor.
Experts believe the venue could lure a global audience to Philadelphia and represent another revenue stream in the ever-expanding competitive gaming ecosystem, a sentiment echoed by Kenney.
"This will provide more space for residents and visitors alike to participate in esports while expanding our business and hospitality sector on a global scale," the mayor said.
Comcast Spectacor Chairman and CEO David Scott said Philadelphia was the perfect city for the new arena, noting that "it's young, it's digital, it's diverse and global."
Professional-level esports are predicted to generate $1.1 billion in 2019 through a combination of sponsorship and media rights deals, game publisher fees and advertising, merchandise and ticket sales, according to gaming research agency Newzoo. Thirty-seven percent — or $409 million — will be generated in North America alone, Newzoo predicts.
Newzoo's figures don't take into account the money that could be made outside of professional-level competitions. Other avenues also exist, including the monetization of non-competitive gaming through services like YouTube and Twitch, the latter of which was bought by Amazon for $970 million in 2014.
"Still," Newzoo notes, "live streaming around non-organized competitive gaming is an exciting industry in itself, full of its own developments."
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns NBC10 Philadelphia.