Speaking at a recent Built Entertainment Networking webinar, Luc Delany, director of technology and esports for NLEA, has given more details about the plans for the site, located between Slessor Garden and the Apex Hotel on Dundee’s Waterfront.
The plans were initially announced in September 2020, with NLEA revealing that it has an exclusive agreement to develop the site. Ian Ritchie Architects is working on the new multi-purpose digital arena, as pictured above.
New esports facility
The budget for the project is between £40 million and £60m and NLEA is aiming to complete it in 2024. As well as the main esports arena, there will also be education and working space for companies in related fields.
The popularity of esports shows no sign of slowing, with the establishment of professional teams, substantial prize pools and more competitions than ever being live-streamed on platforms such as Twitch.
“The game tournaments look more like a rock concert with thousands of people over multiple days,” says Delany. “At an event in Poland, there were 8,000 people in one venue over three days. It drew 150,000 extra visitors came to that city over the weekend generating millions in revenue and filling the hotels. This has a huge economic positive impact.”
Establishing the high-quality digital infrastructure needed for such a project will have a positive impact on the local area, and NLEA is reportedly working with Amazon to establish Dundee as the “world’s best streaming venue”.
Increasing technical skills
“Our discussions with Amazon was initially on the education side,” explains Delany. “They do restart programmes with people who have been made redundant. We like their model of providing training and education to all levels – further, higher and life.
“In the portfolio of Amazon’s businesses is Twitch, the world’s largest streaming platform, responsible for about 80% of all content. We are partnering with them to consider how do we make the Dundee arena the world’s best streaming venue.
“This is looking at not just how we stream events but the best architectural design. This is not just about esports. In a world where we are trying to travel less or maybe can’t travel at all, the arena will be somewhere you can broadcast world-class events.”
Abertay University and Dundee & Angus College are also partners in the project. The university plans to have on-site facilities and hopes to offer esports degree courses. Other partners include low-carbon energy provider Vital Energi.
“We have a huge skills shortage of technical skills across the UK,” says Delany. “You may go and study esports. Esports requires network engineering to make sure the game doesn’t get hacked during a live tournament which could have prize money of $5m.
“So you go to study something you are interested in – video games and esports. You end up learning about network engineering and security and you could end up in a job with IBM. We need to find ways to attract people into these technological roles. By providing facilities that can be used for further and higher education, we think our building and our partners are ways of being part of the levelling-up mission.”
Meanwhile, Glytch has broken ground on its first esports venue in Los Angeles, the first of many planned across North America.