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Esports arenas set to rise in Chicago and Tampa

Esports arenas continue to rise across the US, and new projects are planned for Chicago, Illinois and Tampa, Florida, with the latter opening in 2021.

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surge esports arena chicago

In Chicago, a $30 million arena dedicated to esports and virtual reality (VR) called Surge has been approved for the Near South Side (via ABC 7 Chicago and Chicago Sun-Times).

The development involves creating an immersive experience to accommodate up to 1,040 people, including gaming participants and spectators.

“At this time when we need to return to some type of normalcy, this is an exciting project and something to look forward to,” said Bonnie Sanchez-Carlson, president of the Near South Planning Board.

The arena will cover more than 108,000 square feet and would include free-roaming space for VR gamers, as well as F&B.

Surge proposed for Chicago

Surge Esports Stadium would be located in an existing building, which previously housed Kozy’s Cyclery, with additional space constructed next door.

The City Council’s Zoning Committee gave final zoning approval to Surge on Tuesday (March 23). “Right now, it’s just very quiet over there,” said Sanchez-Carlson. “That area needs a jump start.”

Elsewhere, NFL stars Steve Young and Jerry Rice are helping a nonprofit in Tampa, the Skills Center, to build an esports arena known as 8 to 80 Zone.

The facility will be funded through Young and Rice’s Forever Young Foundation. It will be a free resource for youth living in underserved communities.

“We create change through the power of sports,” said Celeste Roberts, who leads the Skills Center (via ABC Action News).

8 to 80 Zone heading to Tampa

“Jerry and I believe that parents of youth who are passionate about gaming should take time to understand the learning potential and opportunities that esports brings,” said Young.

“Gaming and the competitive esports world provides a stepping stone into coding, publishing, and mass media art. We as parents should embrace this.”

“We know the 8 to 80 esports arena will positively impact youth in the Florida community for years to come,” said Alexia Gallagher, executive director of the NFL Foundation.

Populous and OverActive Media have also unveiled plans and visuals for an esports arena opening in Toronto in 2025. Linkcity is creating a mixed-use development featuring the ‘Scène Digitale’ esports hub in Thiais, France.

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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