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Developers plan European esports ‘hub’ in London

A group of property developers have revealed plans to transform a derelict flour mill in London into Europe’s largest esports ‘hub’.

According to the PCgames.com website, The Silvertown Partnership is hoping to build the venue, as well as 3,000 homes, waterfront restaurants and offices, at the 62-acre Millennium Mills site in the Docklands area of the English capital.

Plans suggest that the esports venue will be housed in a 300,000sq ft building, complete with arena, player lodging and dedicated fan zones, as well as on-site food and beverage facilities and other amenities for supporters.

London has hosted a number of major esports competitions in the past and these events have attracted plenty of interest. In 2014, 12,500 fans were in attendance for a ‘League of Legends’ event at Wembley Arena, while the 7,500-seater Copper Box Arena at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park staged a Gfinity 3 contest in the same year.

However, London’s only dedicated esports venue in Fulham, the Gfinity Arena, has a capacity of just 600 and is housed within a cinema.

Ben Reed, head of brand at First Base, is leading the Docklands development project and said that the dedicated, two-deck arena at the new site will have a capacity of 2,500.

“It will be one big amphitheatre, like a mini version of Rome’s Colosseum with boxes all the way round for teams and testing areas,” Reed said.

“If they (organisers) took somewhere like Alexandra Palace or the Copper Box, they’re going to have issues with bringing stuff in, or somebody’s got a gig at the weekend. We’ve heard from the industry that they just want to keep their kit in a static location.”

In addition to staging esports events, the new venue will offer companies related to the market to showcase their latest products to fans and give them the chance to experience esports for themselves. Reed said The Silvertown Partnership is in late-stage talk with a VR company that wants to take space at the site

Reed added: “They will showcase hardware – HTC Vive would pay them to showcase the hardware to businesses, but consumers can come along and [try out] those products too.

“So instead of playing mini golf for a couple of hours you come along and put on a VR headset for a couple of hours.”

Image: SteelSeries