That place? The world’s first venue dedicated solely to esports, according to a February report from the South China Morning Post. The stadium in Chongqing, designed by Chinese architecture firm Barrie Ho, features a 7,000-seat esports arena as part of a complex with shops, a cafeteria, exhibition space and a luxury hotel.
The venue, named Zhongxian E-Sports Stadium, is set to open mid-2018, according to the project website. But according to the Morning Post, the first stage, including the complete esports arena, was completed and hosted its first event in December. Significant architectural features include canopies and a curtain wall that will be home to LED screens showing outside spectators the esports tournaments happening just through the doors. In that sense, Rex Cheuk, one of the stadium’s architects, told the Morning Post that “the whole facade is really a screen.”
Inside, screens are the prevailing feature as well, with the stadium’s seating revolving around large, center-hung video boards displaying the esports action, the Morning Post reported.
The Morning Post additionally wrote that, with the arena and its wing-like halls on either side, the esports stadium can accommodate 20,000 people, which puts its capacity in line with that of most U.S. hockey and basketball arenas, where a number of esports tournaments have so far been held. But it will fit far fewer people than the ever-increasing number of those who watch esports.
“The number of people watching e-sports online is higher than the number watching the NBA,” Ho, the firm’s leading architect, told the newspaper. “Everybody thinks e-sports is about two people playing a game online. It’s not like that. It’s like a carnival.”
With a venue covered in TV screens outside and within, and two large exhibition halls surrounding the central competition space, it appears Ho has created an esports stadium to support the fan base.