The new esports arena planned for Dundee Waterfront will have a cafe and host live music concerts and comedy shows, it has been revealed.
Operator Northern Lights Arena Europe (NLAE) has provided more details about the £60m project to open a 4,000-capacity gaming arena next to Slessor Gardens in 2024.
The arena’s primary focus will be on esports, which is sports competitions using computer games. In this rapidly-growing sport, teams often compete for multi-million pound prize pots.
But Luc Delaney, director of creative technology and Esports at NLAE, says the facility will have mainstream appeal.
He said: “We absolutely expect to have a calendar that includes traditional acts in music and comedy and family shows.
“It will be a great size for a lot of acts and they will also be able to stream worldwide to many thousands of people.
“We can have a small arena with a global audience.
“We will have a cafe open every day where gamers can come and play, and also host viewing parties around the world.
“The cafe will be a 21st-century gaming arcade with equipment for an audience of 20 to 40 year olds.
“The perception is often that gaming is for teenagers or kids but that is just not true – the average age of a gamer is actually 37.”
Esports ‘pushing the boundaries’
Mr Delaney was speaking on day two of the four-day SEL4 gaming event at Dundee Contemporary Arts.
He says the new arena, beside Slessor Gardens, will be “Europe’s first truly digital enabled arena space”.
“We are building a number of state-of-the art arenas across Europe and the first one will be in Dundee,” he added.
“The form of entertainment most pushing the boundaries is esports.
“Just look at the SEL4 event put on by the organisers in terms of production and scale. To do this in a matter of months when so many things have been closed is phenomenal.”
The arena will also provide local education facilities.
Berkshire-based Mr Delaney also revealed that he had been working on the educational element with the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies, based at Nottingham, Trent University.
He added: “There will be a faculty for higher education and lifelong learning, giving students real-life facilities and equipment.
“You could be a 16-year-old coming here to learn about gaming who also learns about network security because we don’t want the arena to be hacked.
“So immediately you are talking about providing high-skilled jobs that can be used in other parts of society because of the Dundee arena.”
‘Just the beginning of what’s to come at Dundee’
The financial muscle wielded by Esports is grossly unrecognised, continued Mr Delaney.
“A lot of people don’t realise how important gaming is.
“It’s a £180bn industry, which is more than film and television combined, providing high-skilled and high-paying jobs.
“To be a gamer requires critical thinking and we need people with those type of skills not only in this industry but transferable to other jobs as well.
“This is just the beginning of what’s to come at Dundee.
“The city is the spiritual home of a lot of gaming across Europe and has an opportunity to punch above its weight.
“At the arena people will be able to plug in and play, meaning there won’t need to be a big infrastructure.
“This will help the city’s hotels because it will mean fewer ‘dark days’.”
Alec Livey, operations director at Esports Scotland, said: “To think that we will have something like this in Dundee is amazing.”