Esports Arena And Studio To Open At Mall Of America

Esports tournaments and events have been filling arenas. Now the Mall of America wants a

The Mall of America, a pioneer in using attractions like amusement parks and aquariums to draw crowds, is embracing a new kind of experience – esports. The mall has a deal with Wisdom Gaming to create an esports broadcast studio and gaming venue.

The announcement could signal the start of the esports era for malls, when having a place to host livestreaming video gaming events becomes an essential ingredient for a modern mall, as experiences replace traditional retail.

Wisdom Gaming plans to create a space where it can livestream esports competitions in front of a studio audience, and host other gaming events. The 18,000 square foot space, on the fourth floor of the mall, will also have a gaming lounge serving food and beverages, and a retail shop.

The esports venue is scheduled to open in the first quarter of next year.

Wisdom Gaming also plans to take advantage of the opportunity to hold large esports events in the mall’s TCF Rotunda, an open area that is used for concerts and celebrity appearances.

“The flexibility and the ability to scale is really what excites us the most about the partnership with the Mall of America,” said Nicole Du Cane Spencer, vice president of sales and partnerships at Wisdom Gaming.

In addition to hosting watch parties and live audience gaming broadcasts in its studio, “we can scale it all the way up to doing 10,000-plus-people events in the TCF Rotunda which is one of the major high-traffic areas within the mall,” she said. “So we’re really able to do events, experiential events, live broadcasts, the works all throughout the mall’s complex.”

Wisdom Gaming, which is headquartered near the Bloomington, MN mall, is hoping to make Mall of America, and the Minneapolis area, a hub for esports activity.

The Mall of America likes that idea.

“Tapping into the esports landscape has been something we’ve had on our radar for a long time,” Jill Renslow, EVP, business development, Mall of America, said in announcing the deal with Wisdom Gaming. The mall, however, wanted to make sure it was approaching the esports audience the right way, Renslow said. By partnering with Wisdom Gaming, she said, the mall can leverage “their expertise in the space to establish Mall of America as the premiere esports destination hub for guests and global esports fans alike.”

Wisdom Gaming, Du Cane Spencer said, felt that the mall’s management “really aligned with our mission.”

“We’re not just a tenant to them. This is a strategic partnership where we’re both looking at the long term opportunities for growth,” she said.

And there is a lot of growth in esports.

Gaming and esports market research company Newzoo predicts that global esports revenues will grow by 14.5{df277fece0e332513078d4db57f50d7f29a9f255adc120b3235ad73f23ad2e97} this year to over $1 billion, and that the global games and live-stream audience will reach 728.8 million this year, a 10{df277fece0e332513078d4db57f50d7f29a9f255adc120b3235ad73f23ad2e97} increase, and will hit 920.3 million by 2024.

Esports has made other inroads into retail, but the Mall of America, the country’s largest mall, plans to jump into the fast growing entertainment trend in a big way.

Esports Arena, which opened one of the first dedicated esports facilities, began opening esports gaming centers in Walmart stores in 2018. It has grown from five Walmart locations to 14, with four more locations preparing to open.

Wisdom Gaming, which was founded in 2019, offers production services, tournament organization, and marketing strategy for game publishers and brands. It also operates a number of esports organizations at the professional, amateur, and scholastic competition levels, including Torrent and the Minnesota Varsity League.

It is moving its headquarters into office space at the mall, as well as opening the studio and events space.

The popularity of esports and live-streaming events means that brands and advertisers are increasingly turning to them as a way to reach younger consumers.

“Reaching the Gen-Zs, reaching the millennials, they’re a tough-to-reach market. They’re the ad blockers, the cord-cutters, they’re skipping commercials. For brands to find new ways to authentically and effectively reach that demographic one of the best opportunities is esports and gaming,” Du Cane Spencer said. “That’s where Wisdom comes in. We’re the ones that can help advise brands on how to effectively enter that space and talk to that audience.”