Overactive Media have confirmed that they are partnering with the design and development firm Populous to build a new $500 million entertainment performance venue. This will be the first new sports and entertainment venue built in Toronto since BMO Field was completed in 2007.
The New Venue
This is a privately financed project that will be built on four acres on the north side of Lakeshore Blvd., and across from the Ontario Place lands. The aim is for the construction to be finished in 2025. The plan is for the venue to seat up to 7000 people for sports, music, and entertainment events.
In order to achieve this, they are not focusing on one specific style for the building, they plan to create a custom-built venue that can meet the needs of not only sports fans but also entertainment and other media.
Esports at the Venue
The new venue plans to host 200+ events a year. While many of these will be music and entertainment bookings, there will also be a focus on esports events. OverActive Media is the owner of four major global esports franchises, including Toronto’s two professional teams (Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League and Toronto Defiant of the Overwatch League). The plan is for the new venue to be home for its two teams, their plan is to also make sure that Toronto and Canada become a destination of choice for the global industry of gaming and esports.
OverActive’s President and CEO, Chris Overholt, wrote in their announcement post: “Today is another important step in the evolution of OverActive Media. We are building a world leading, 21st century sports media and entertainment company and this best-in-class performance venue will be the chosen home for a new generation of fans that think differently about their entertainment choices and experiences. It has always been our intention to develop a venue and hosting strategy and to build a facility that could not only serve as an iconic home for our two franchises, but ultimately emerge as a global hub for major international esport events. We are already in active discussions to attract some of the biggest esport events in the world. This venue will redefine Toronto’s event hosting opportunities in every way.”
Jonathan Mallie, Senior Principal and lead designer for Populous also wrote: “The design of the theatre 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. The theatre architecture creates a merger of the old and the new. The old channeling the rhythmic repetition of historic landmark theatres, and the new, integrating the progressive forms of avant-garde twenty-first-century design. In combination, a symbiotic balance delivers a one-of-a-kind theatre architecture, unique to Toronto and the world.”
It is clear that the focus of this new venue is not esports. Financing a project at this scale would not be possible if it were only focused on esports events. But, by keeping the idea of it becoming an esports venue so prominent in all of their press material, it shows that they are definitely committed to growing the region as an esports hub.