The owner of Chinese esports organisation Edward Gaming, the SuperGen Group, has announced that it has started construction on the brand new “Shanghai International Culture and Creative Esports Center” in the Minhang district of the city.
To celebrate the start of work, which is expected to be completed by 2023, a ceremony was held to celebrate breaking ground on the new site earlier this week.
The venue will be the new home venue for Edward Gaming as well as hosting its own 6,000 seater esports venue, a five-star hotel based on an esports theme, an indoor skydiving attraction, and a number of other attractions.
This is a significant investment by the SuperGen Group, with the first phase of the project budgeted at around $774 million US Dollars, and the total cost of the project estimated to cost around $1.5 billion. The park will be around 500,000 square meters in size and there are plans to host over 300 esports competitions at the venue each year, with 10,000 visitors each day.
Around 2000 jobs in the esports industry will be created by the new center, with hundreds of esports companies expected to try and set up offices on the site too.
There is no doubt that this new venue will be a huge statement of Shanghai and China’s intent to become a major hub for esports not just in Asia, but across the world. But there is another important issue at stake here and that is the possibility of the new complex amplifying calls for Olympic recognition for esports.
Asian Games Recognition
There is no doubt that there is a real push from countries in East Asia, notably China and South Korea, as well as companies such as Intel, for esports to be included in future iterations of the Olympic Games.
While this has generally been met with pushback from some notable figures within the IOC, there are those that are sympathetic to the notion of esports becoming an Olympic event.
Back in December, one of the first moves towards that was achieved when the organisers of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China announced that after a successful trial as a demonstration sport at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, esports will be an official medalled event at the 2022 Asian Games.
A number of games were played in the 2018 Games, including League of Legends, StarCraft II, Clash Royale, Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, Hearthstone, and Arena of Valor. Many of these, and perhaps some fresh titles, may be included for the 2022 games.
A Step Closer to Olympic Recognition?
There is no doubt that building an esports super-center in Shanghai is a big statement from those involved in the esports industry in east Asia. It is one of a growing number of bespoke esports hubs that have been, or are being, created all over the world. The inclusion of esports in the 2022 Asian Games as an official medalled event also gives it added credibility.
And while esports was rejected as a medalled event for the Paris Olympics in 2024, it is notable that breakdancing was included, which does give esports hope that non-traditional sports can force their way into the Olympic fold.
With support from key sponsors such as Intel, the pressure is growing on IOC chief Thomas Bach to include esports in future versions of the games. And as the industry grows in size, scope, and importance and the more venues such as the forthcoming Esports Center in Shanghai are created, the clamour for its inclusion in the Olympics will only grow louder.