WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is yet to be a defined “Los Angeles” of East Coast esports, but Washington, D.C. is pushing hard to claim that title.
The Daily Walkthrough spoke with EventsDC board of directors chairman Max Brown about Washington, D.C.’s plans to position itself as the East Coast’s esports mecca. EventsDC has already started making moves by sponsoring NRG Esports and constructing an esports-oriented stadium.
Brown teased to TheDW some soon-to-be announced esports events that are in their “final stages” and dropped a few hints about the Overwatch League.
“We’ve got some events that we’ll announce soon. We’re just sort of in final stages and we don’t want to share at this point until we get things nailed down,” Brown said. “We’re in the process of starting to book things. There’s not going to be any arena at our size to support esports like this one in the country in the fall of 2018, so we’re really, really excited about it. The timing is great, there’s going to be a lot of demand for it.”
As for the Overwatch League, Brown played coy. He did tell TheDW multiple owners have approached EventsDC about a potential D.C. buy-in.
“We’ve had conversations … We’ve been approached by other potential owners, so we’re going to be looking at that and seeing if we can facilitate that. You know, for the next couple years, teams are playing in L.A. It’s not even an issue now, actual events, local events. So, we tied in nicely time-wise. We need to make sure that beyond, one of the main reasons we got into this was to drive economic development, drive tourism, right? [Tourism] generates revenue that supports schools, public safety, roads and so forth … We’ll be looking closely to the timing of Overwatch as it’s related to D.C.”
He isn’t worried about skepticism regarding D.C.’s ability to host esports, saying, “D.C. is not your grandfather’s capital. You know, 20 years ago it was basically just government. Over the last 20 years we’ve added tens of thousands of new residents to the city who are driving and creating an economy. Our restaurant scene is one of the best in the country. Our neighborhood activities, quality of life and excitement are really first rate. It’s a completely different city than it was 20 years ago. It’s unbelievable what’s going on here.”
What makes D.C. better than, say, New York City? Knowledge of the industry and a solid strategy, Brown explained.
“We have in-depth knowledge about the industry. It’s not just simply saying, ‘We have a building, come here.’ The teams and leagues and people involved want to know that the partner on the other side has some knowledge base about what they’re doing, some strategy in place. We have a three-pronged strategy for the city. One: Investing and sponsoring in a team, which we’ve done sponsoring NRG and will probably look at sponsoring an additional team or teams down the road.
“Two: Building an ecosystem to support esports. Doing the things with Boys & Girls club, working with your community, putting on events, all our events, to build that ecosystem. And three: Having a brand new arena to attract these events. On some levels it’s just going to be a commodity, so what’s the value add for the teams to come to a city? We have, in addition to all the things I described, a creative economy and diverse city to support this activity.”
The Madison Square Garden Company, which owns the New York City venue and sports teams like the Knicks, recently acquired a controlling stake in Counter Logic Gaming. It also announced its intent to aggressively invest in esports. But Brown argues that what D.C. is building is way better than Madison Square Garden.
“We’ve got the arena coming online, which is a 4,500-seat arena coming online in the fall of 2018. It’s going to be state-of-the-art infrastructure. Not only are we working with our infrastructure providers, but also talking to some players about giving us a player’s perspective. A: What the infrastructure needs should be from their perspective, and also looking at four, five, six years from now so we can be well-positioned beyond. We’re going to be, I mean really, the only new arena that’s coming online certainly on the East Coast to support esports.”
On top of that, EventsDC is pursuing TwitchCon in 2018, which will be held this year in Long Beach, Calif., Oct, 20-22.
“We’ve been having conversations with them [Twitch],” Brown told TheDW. “You know, they’re really great people and we’re continuing having conversations and trying to see if we’d be a good fit for each other. From our perspective, we certainly are. So, just working out, trying to figure out some logistics to see if it’s a good fit for everybody.”