As esports experiences record growth in revenue, participation and viewership, Nuno Guerreiro, an architect with HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice, shares his vision for the esports stadium of the future in a bylined article.
In 2017, revenue from esports exceeded $655 million, and this number is expected to touch nearly $900 million in 2018. As esports expand, venues are starting to explore what their purpose-built venues will look like and how they can attract this next-generation of fans while satisfying the distinct needs of competitors.
Because most traditional sports are played in similar ways, strategies for innovative venue design have tended to focus on the needs of fans and sponsors. But esports require a completely different mindset. Traditional bowl design methodologies simply don’t support an esports event. With so many different types of competitions, a layout that works for one game might require radical transformation for another. Team games like Counter Strike, for example, require players to watch individual screens, while player-versus-player matches like Street Fighter require competitors to share a setup.
Given these unique, ever-changing requirements of esports events, we believe there will be a move toward more circular, scalable venues that can be sectioned off and configured to accommodate the specific needs of each individual game. To ensure the venue can cater to any esports event, we envisage a player infrastructure that can be easily added, removed or shifted around the arena as needed. To generate excitement and foster team loyalty, these player components could even be positioned among spectator seats.
As one potential solution to the vast technology needs of an esports event, HOK has designed large, movable, petal-shaped screens that can be used for lighting and effects as well as content displays. These enormous surfaces hang above the seating bowl, doubling as ‘team screens’ and giving spectators a feeling of being in the centre of the action.