A 7,000-Seat Stadium in Toronto Reveals Esports’ Real Place In Design

Designed by Populus, the multipurpose structure whose roof resembles a turtle shell is slated for completion in 2025 and is the latest example of gaming's booming popularity.

The Download: Global design firm Populus, who specializes in sports arenas, has earned a sterling reputation for leading blockbuster projects such as Yankee Stadium in New York and the 2012 London Olympic Stadium. Its latest proposal is both familiar and new: a multipurpose structure whose undulating roof resembles a turtle shell and whose central purpose is electronic sports—competitive video games, in layman’s terms. The new 7,000-seat stadium in Toronto, slated for completion in 2025, will also host events such as concerts and performances, but its core function as a place for spectators to view live esport competitions is a signal of the video game industry’s tremendous popularity in contemporary culture.

Why it Matters: The momentum behind esports has been building for years and appears to have reached a tipping point. In Chicago, a real estate development that includes a $30 million, 106,000-square-foot esports venue called Surge is underway. Populus has similar projects in Philadelphia, Melbourne, and Arlington, Texas, in the works. The subset of sports culture’s growing influence was recently put into perspective by Business Insider who forecasts the market to surpass $1.5 billion by 2023. Gaming has even grasped the attention of the furniture industry so much so that iconic brands such as Herman Miller have entered the foray.

In Their Words: “The design of the theater was neither conceived as a sports arena nor an opera house, rather, a new typology that straddles the two–a state-of-the-art performance venue,” says senior principal, Jonathan Mallie. “The theater architecture creates a merger of the old and the new.”

Surface Says: Not convinced? Top esports earner JerAx made $3,162,536 in 2019. How bout’ them apples?

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