Philadelphia to get $50m arena just to watch people shoot at things on a computer screen

Comcast Spectacor, owners of the Philadelphia Flyers, plan to spend $50 million to build the nation’s first esports arena for their Fusion Overwatch team, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Also not actually the nation’s first esports arena, notes Motherboard, because there’s already the Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas, which wasn’t built from scratch but was constructed in a converted event space. Also really not actually the nation’s first esports arena, because the Fusion, along with all the other teams in the Overwatch league, currently play at Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles, which is basically a TV studio (and also “a crucible where champions become legends” but mostly a TV studio).

Also really really not actually the nation’s first esports arena, since Engadget reports it will “double as a venue for other live events,” so arguably it’s just a theater that will host Overwatch games, though I guess you could argue that Madison Square Garden is just a theater that hosts basketball and hockey games, too. The whatever-it-is will be built in the parking lot of the Flyers’ home arena, which Comcast Spectacor currently controls via a ground lease, which I haven’t been able to figure out how much the company pays in rent on in the amount of research time I have this morning, but even if it’s a sweetheart lease deal, it’s a sunk cost for taxpayers, so this arena won’t increase it.

Anyway, let’s get to the fun part, which is making fun of the Fusion arena renderings, armed with the newfound knowledge about greeblies and such that we learned yesterday:

So let’s see: We have a whole bunch of (or at least a couple dozen) fans headed into the arena wearing Fusion shirts, which, yep, checks out. One is wearing a jersey of a Fusion player named “Carpe,” which also checks out — here is his “player profile,” which, trigger warning if you’re not familiar with Overwatch, mostly consists of him shooting things with automatic weapons.

Beyond that, the strangest elements appear to be the fan in the foreground throwing their arms in the air for no particular reason — which is very much a Thing People In Sports Renderings Do — plus the couple who appear to already be done for the evening and are stumbling back away from the arena, unless they’re posing for a selfie being taken with a video camera?

Anyway, that image isn’t too entertaining — not even any fireworks! — so do we have any others?

Now we’re talking! Thundersticks! Luxury boxes! Spotlights illuminating nothing in particular! A person whose right hand appears to have actually mutated into a cell phone! I especially like how the renderers appear not to actually know what goes on in an esports arena, so the fans are all cheering wildly for what looks like a bunch of empty chairs behind a podium and a giant team photo. Or maybe they know damn well what goes on in an esports arena, but didn’t want to show people cheering on automatic weapons fire.


11 comments on “Philadelphia to get $50m arena just to watch people shoot at things on a computer screen

  1. Oh man, freshmen city councilmembers in mid-sized cities across the country are just salivating over the public money they can spend on one of these things.

  2. Install something into the Wells Fargo Center similar to the Spectrum Theater. Smaller format arena setting that is more than serviceable for the Overwatch League.

    If Overwatch League grows then don’t use said format of the Wells Fargo Center and pack the arena.

    …or waste 50 million on a e-sport that may not be around for the long term….you do you Philadelphia…

  3. Man oh man, the knowledge Neil gained from those rendering artists is going to bring his game to ‘11’.

  4. I’d like to believe that future (alien) archaeologists, should they manage to navigate the surely torturous copyright legacies of a proprietary USB charging port being rebuilt and used centuries after the company that owned it has dissolved, will recognize the moment that the human race effectively ended as being the point at which said humans became willing to pay to sit in their living rooms and watch other people play video games on their TV.

    • The description of the gaming sounds like a plot line from a sci-fi novel, where humans virtually merge with and become part of the technology, ” A person whose right hand appears to have actually mutated into a cell phone! “. Maybe William Gibson will write about something like this in a future novel?

  5. I went to the Milwaukee Bucks game last night, and a couple times on the way in and a couple times in the arena I threw my hands in the air for no reason. Felt like the thing to do now as a Sports Fan.

  6. Given that I haven’t heard a suggestion yet that any public monies would be used (and assuming that is true, and acknowledging the City of Philadelphia doesn’t have a recent history of throwing public money at private stadiums, and that Comcast is currently funding the $250 million renovation of the Wells Fargo Center without public monies) the detractors here come across like elder statesmen who just don’t like this newfangled e-sports thingy (“and while you’re at it, get off my lawn!”). All the publicity around this project (which I read a lot of because I found it unusual) noted that it would be the first e-sports arena designed from scratch to be an esports arena. I like this site because it challenges the concept of taxpayer supported stadiums, not because it pokes fun at non-taxpayer funded investments, particularly those favored by a much younger demographic than visits this site.