Justin Wood

Populous helps lead national esports movement

In a nod to what is being called the “next generation consumer,” Kansas City-based Populous is teaming up with Comcast Spectacor and The Cordish Companies to build Fusion Arena, a $50 million esports and entertainment venue in the heart of the Philadelphia Sports Complex. 

“Fusion Arena represents a watershed moment for the competitive gaming market,” said Populous Senior Principal Brian Mirakian. “We’re taking our 36 years of designing iconic experiences for traditional sports- settings like Yankee Stadium- and applying those same principles of design to the virtual world of gaming.”

The future home to the Philadelphia Fusion esports franchise will have seating for up to 3,500 guests and will serve as the “western hemisphere’s largest ground-up, purpose-built esports venue,” according to a release. 

Earlier this month, Mirakian spoke at SXSW and discussed how esports venues can bring cities and sports teams new revenue streams, increased commerce and development and reinvigorated neighborhoods. 

The rise of esports development and design was a big topic for panelists at MetroWire Media’s Game On event covering sports and entertainment development and design on March 7.

“Esports is exploding as more universities starting to offer scholarships,” said James Dietz of Henderson Engineers, which served as the low-voltage engineering firm of record for the Esports Arlington Stadium. “These facilities require high connectivity and people are starting to look at a specific sport and turn it into more of a fan experience for video gamers out there.”

Overland Park-based Dimensional Innovations also is seeing more opportunity in esports, particularly on college campuses. “We are working on two university gaming/training facilities, so there is definitely a strong trend in that marketplace,” added DI co-founder Justin Wood

Populous’ Philadelphia venue will incorporate industrial materials that pay tribute to that city’s heritage as “workshop of the world” and will include a 6,000-square foot public entry and 2000 square feet of interactive media hovering 30 feet above. 

In addition to hosting competitive gaming events and elite training, the arena will be designed to host a variety of live entertainment programming and experiences, offering unique seating experiences such as balcony bars, club seats with USB ports, flexible loge boxes and exclusive suites. Additionally, nearly 10,000 square feet will be dedicated to a training facility, broadcast studio and team offices. 

“Fusion Arena will set the gold standard for competitive gaming and debut on one of the country’s most exciting platforms of sports and entertainment...” said Blake Cordish, Principal of The Cordish Companies, which also served as master developer of the Kansas City Power & Light District.  

Game On takeaway: 'Were all technology firms. We just don't know it yet'

The Kansas City region's internationally acclaimed sports construction and AEC industry was the topic of MetroWire Media's Game On Sports and Entertainment Event on Thurs., March 7 at Children's Mercy Park. 

Here are some highlights from our star-studded lineup:

"The conversations we used to have are so outdated, it's amazing. Every year the conversation changes... The stuff that Silicon Valley is developing now will hit the sports industry in a couple years and it will blow your mind." -Andy Heitmann, VP Construction, Turner Construction.

"We're all technology firms. We just don't know it yet... Technology is impacting everything we do... From security to fan engagement, it's driving the fan and athlete experience." -James Dietz, AVP, Henderson Engineers.

“We have spent a lot of time developing sponsorship integrations that create great fan experiences. The idea is that venues and teams have opportunities within the built environment to tell stories using sponsor dollars as opposed to team’s dollars.” -Justin Wood, Partner, Dimensional Innovations

"The most important thing we can do is to create adaptable frameworks for buildings... 5G is on the way and that will transform the experience." -Kelly Holton, senior designer, Populous

"Engaging people with the live experience is our focus and challenge." -Jeff Sittner, Burns & McDonnell Sports Design Build team leader

"How do we take what we know about the fans and deliver what they want? It begins with knowing who is in the building." -Jason Houseworth, President, FanThreeSixty.

Special thanks to Sporting KC Executive Vice President John Moncke for serving as guest speaker and to our Platinum Sponsor, Turner Construction.

Click here to view a slideshow of our Game On event!