Allied Esports Entertainment (AESE) is set to receive a $5m (£4m/€4.5m) investment from Simon Property Group, the largest shopping mall operator in the US, to build esports venues at its properties.
The investment will be made through the Black Ridge Acquisition division of Black Ridge Oil & Gas, which was formed through the acquisition of Allied Esports and World Poker Tour (WPT) Enterprises from Hong Kong-listed mind sports entertainment company Ourgame International last year.
AESE is an esports entertainment company dedicated to providing in-person experiences, multiplatform content and interactive services to the global video gaming community through the combination of Allied Esports and WPT.
Simon and Allied Esports will collaborate to create a new product offering focused on delivering esports experiences through integrated gaming venues and production facilities in select Simon destinations around the US.
The in-mall arenas will be designed for tournament play and daily use with the capability to be expanded into common areas for larger esports activations and live events.
Mark Silvestri, Simon’s chief operating officer for development, said: “We’re extremely pleased to collaborate with Black Ridge and Allied Esports, leading innovators in esports and gaming, to bring cutting-edge venues to our iconic properties around the country.
“This is exactly the type of innovative activation that excites our customers and drives traffic for our centres at Simon. Simon’s successful locations are ideally suited to provide these new and exciting community spaces, complementing our other dynamic offerings.”
Under the agreement, Allied Esports and Simon will this year launch The Simon Cup, a co-branded esports competition and gaming tournament festival combining online and in-person elements into an integrated content format. The activation includes regional tournament events at select Simon centres in the New York and Los Angeles markets, culminating in a Grand Final at the iconic HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas.
Frank Ng, co-chief executive of Ourgame, owner of Allied Esports, said: “Simon’s commitment and investment in our growing esports ecosystem will immediately strengthen our foundation for creating live experiences and compelling content for gamers and fans around the world.
“We are thrilled for the opportunity to work closely with the forward-thinking team at Simon to design specialised mall-based esports concepts that we hope will attract new audiences and partners through their network and enhance our global presence.”
The deal is subject to certain conditions, including but not limited to the execution of definitive agreements between the parties documenting the obligations of Simon to purchase the shares of Black Ridge and consummation of the business combination.
The investment from Simon Property Group comes days after Mexican broadcaster TV Azteca agreed to form an alliance with Allied Esports and Black Ridge Acquisition Corp to create a digital channel broadcasting electronic sports.
Lyle Berman, director of Black Ridge, added: “The agreement with Simon is a landmark opportunity to bring Allied Esports’ vision for the future of competitive gaming to Simon’s world class property network.
“As we work to close the transaction combining our NASDAQ-listed Black Ridge Acquisition Corp. with Allied Esports and WPT, the significant investment by Simon would be a testament to our unrivaled plans and to the opportunity Simon sees to participate in this growing industry.”