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Plans proposed for new esports arena in Bristol

Plans have been outlined for a new esports arena in the English city of Bristol that would seat between 1,400 and 1,500 spectators.

The arena would be located on the West of England Institute for Specialist Education (WISE) Further Education College site and would sit alongside a new creative/technology education faculty.

South Gloucestershire & Stroud College (SGS) has invited NLA Europe Limited (NLAE) to bring forward proposals for the project. NLAE will submit detailed proposals for the enhancement of the existing WISE campus, with the new faculty to work closely with the existing on-site Bristol Institute of Performing Arts, Bristol Academy of Media and the Bristol School of Art, along with other SGS campuses.

The esports arena would feature global digital streaming capability, which would be designed and delivered by NLAE’s partnership with Amazon Web Services & Education (AWS).

AWS will also design and participate in the delivery of the cloud-based content that would be provided by the new faculty. UK-based renewable energy company Vital Energi will also work with NLAE and SGS to deliver a zero-carbon energy solution for the development.

In September, NLAE signed an 18-month exclusivity agreement with Dundee City Council that allowed the company to progress initial design concepts for a 4,000-seat esports arena in the Scottish city. The arena would sit on the city’s waterfront and the plans incorporate Dundee’s Abertay University.

The Bristol arena would mark the next major education technology/esports project in NLAE’s UK portfolio and has a targeted opening date of September 2023.

Keith Hamblin, chief executive of the SGS Group, said: “This announcement is the next step towards a development that would put creative technology and esports at the heart of the region.

“We have always prided ourselves on giving students education and training that meets the demands of the changing jobs market and as such, this investment with two leading organisations would put us at the forefront of one of the world’s fastest growing industries.

“This private sector investment in the skills education of the West of England is a testament to the faith in the future of the creative sector in the south west as we emerge from the pandemic.”

NLAE chief executive Chris Turner added: “By working with SGS to deliver world-class, futureproof digital education and esports training and events facilities, the proposed WISE faculty development will put Bristol and the south west firmly on the global esports map.

“Having been born in South Gloucestershire and graduated from Bristol University, it is a privilege for me to be leading a project that will deliver economic and employment opportunities for socially disadvantaged school leavers and a major reskilling opportunity for Bristol’s existing workforce in the digital industries of the future.”

The WISE Campus is already planning to open a new £7m (€7.7m/$9.3m) specialist technology and science building funded by the West of England Combined Authority in March 2021. NLAE said this was the catalyst for its interest in the site.

Image: Glenn Howells Architects Limited/NLAE