Washington D.C. Sponsors NRG Esports, Plans to Build $65 Million eSports Arena

The Washington Convention and Sports Authority of Washington D.C., Events DC, has been revealed to be the latest sponsor of NRG Esports.

Back in December, Blizzard announced their plans for an Overwatch league that would follow a city-based structure similar to what we see with traditional sports. While the investment of traditional sports teams into eSports organizations has long since lost its novelty – thanks to the gold rush-like swarm of NBA teams and personalities taking organizations under their wing – in an interview with theScore esports’s Josh Bury, NRG spilled the beans about how city mayors have already approached the organization about planting roots in their respective cities.

Unlike traditional sports teams, however, NRG Esports co-founder Andy Miller stressed that the organization won’t be locked down to the city like other sports teams.

“We’re not the D.C. NRG,” Miller told Mashable’s Kellen Beck, “But we will be spending a bunch of time down there, we will definitely be bootcamping down there… and then hopefully we can bring real big events across all the different leagues and games that we play in to D.C. so that people can actually go and watch them.”

Miller did express an interest in eSports taking a more localized approach, though, claiming that there is “no reason why it shouldn’t be Washington D.C. against New York, or Boston Against LA.” Miller described the potential rivalries to be no different than the rivalries built between organizations.

Contrary to what many would think, Miller made it clear that the sponsorship does not secure their Overwatch team to Washington D.C.. While it’s possible that NRG and D.C. could come to an agreement regarding the Overwatch League down the road, at present, NRG is more interested in testing the waters.

“One — we want to make sure we’re in the Overwatch League.”Two — if it’s Washington D.C., that would be great. We have a wonderfully exciting team that we want to keep together and we want to keep growing … I do think this [sponsorship] is a validation for the city-based approach that they’re trying to put together.”

In addition to supporting NRG, the city plans to build an arena that will be outfitted with competitive gaming in mind. Events D.C. Chairman Max Brown described the arena as one that will cost an estimated $65 million USD, be “fully tailored and wired” for eSports, and will seat around 4,200 attendees. The current plan is to have the arena up and running towards late 2018, or early 2019, and to be the nation’s eSports hub by 2025.

“Each month there are 1,000 new residents in Washington, DC who are accelerating and becoming part of DC’s ongoing transformation by attracting new and exciting events that further position the city on a global stage,” Brown stated in the Events DC press release, “Through collaborations with organizations like NRG, we are actively working to position ourselves for the future and in the next five to eight years, DC will be positioned to be the capital of esports.”

Events DC and NRG Esports will host an eSports panel on March 12th at the WeDC House at 6:00 pm EST that will discuss the new ecosystem of eSports and how it can advance local economic development through the use of eSports tourism and industry infrastructure.