Comcast Spectacor has been forced to pause work on a new 3,500-seat arena for the Philadelphia Fusion esports team due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comcast Spectacor and the Fusion broke ground on the arena in September last year and the Populous-designed facility had been due to open in 2021.

However, the pandemic has caused Comcast Spectacor to adjust the timeline for the arena, with the opening date set to be pushed back.

In a statement to Sports Business Journal, Comcast Spectacor said: “As we navigate through the many challenges and unknowns that the pandemic has forced upon our ambition to open Fusion Arena in 2021, we have decided to pause the project until we have more clarity. We hope to move forward in the near future.”

Fusion Arena is being built at a cost of $50m (£39.3m/€42.7m) and has been backed by real estate developer The Cordish Companies. It is set to become the largest ground-up, purpose-built esports venue in the western hemisphere when it opens.

As well as hosting Fusion events and training, the 60,000-square-foot arena will have the capacity to stage other events throughout the year. Fusion Arena will form part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, which already includes Citizens Bank Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Phillies; Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Eagles; and Wells Fargo Center, home of the NBA’s 76ers and the NHL’s Flyers.

Populous has experience of delivering esports projects in the past, having debuted Esports Stadium Arlington in the Texan city in November 2018.

Image: Populous