Esports stadium planned for Toronto amid boom of professional gaming
TORONTO -- With the growing popularity of professional gaming, a Toronto company has plans to build a huge esports theatre in the city.
OverActive Media has their sights to set up a 7,000-seater arena at Toronto's Exhibition Grounds where esports fans can watch gamers play -- once it becomes safe enough to welcome in-person events. The company owns Toronto Defiant, a professional team which plays the first-person game Overwatch, as well as Toronto Ultra, a professional team that plays Call of Duty.
"The core is absolutely Gen Z, millennial(s), those folks that grew up playing games, " OverActive Media chief commercial officer Alyson Walker told CTV National News.
Esports has become a booming industry, with some tournaments having even drawn larger audiences than the Super Bowl. By one estimate according to Statistica, the global audience for this year will be around 474 million viewers, with revenues close to US$1.1 billion.
"In general, I think gaming is getting bigger and bigger," said Adam Denton, who plays the first-person shooter game Overwatch for Toronto Defiant.
OverActive Media also recently opened up a 15,000 square foot training facility with rows and rows of gaming PCs -- as well as lockers, similar to what other sports team would have.
Jamie Craven, a Call of Duty player for Toronto Ultra who was recruited from England, calls it surreal.
"A couple years ago I was just sent my bedroom playing video games. Now I'm in a 15,000 square foot facility just playing a video game get paid for it, it's kind of obscene," Craven told CTV National News.
Players in Denton's Overwatch League make a minimum salary of US$50,000, though the top players can earn millions. Denton and Craven say they're constantly training to get better, usually six times a week, sometimes pulling 12-hour days.