PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Fusion and their parent company Comcast Spectacor broke ground and revealed new indoor renderings on Wednesday for their new Fusion Arena, which will open in 2021 at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex.
The ceremony featured remarks from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott, Fusion president Tucker Roberts and Overwatch League commissioner Pete Vlastelica, as well as Populous senior principal Brian Mirakian and The Cordish Companies principal Blake Cordish, whose companies will design, develop and construct the arena.
The new venue will be built on what's currently a parking lot adjacent to Xfinity Live, the dining and entertainment space in the same complex as Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park, the respective homes of the Philadelphia 76ers, Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia Phillies.
"Fusion Arena changes the dynamic of sports as we know it," Mayor Kenney said during the ceremony. "As esports continues to grow around the world, Philadelphia will be a hub in North America. Philadelphia is a city that's always looking to bring people together and Fusion Arena will do just that."
On Sunday, the Wells Fargo Center will host the Overwatch League Finals to a reported sold-out crowd.
The Philadelphia Fusion were the first in the Overwatch League to announce the construction of a venue for their esports teams. The 60,000-square-foot, 3,500-seat arena will cost over $50 million to develop and will feature the live event space, luxury boxes, team offices, a broadcast facility and a player practice area.
When the Overwatch League geolocates in 2020, the Fusion will host three homestand events -- two at The Met in Philadelphia on Feb. 15-16 and May 23-24 and another at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on June 6-7.Those events will be hosted at Fusion Arena after it opens in 2021.
"We did a lot, in Season 1 of the Overwatch League, a lot of watch parties," Roberts told ESPN on why the group chose the location. "Every stage we did watch parties and the reason we did that was to collect data on where our fans were. Initially we thought they'd be in West Philly or University City, but then we actually found out that when we did it at Xfinity Live, we had the biggest turn out by far. We weren't just looking at the numbers, but we were asking people, 'why did you come out and what do you prefer?' And everybody just preferred [South Philly]."
Roberts, who has overseen the Fusion and Spectacor's other esports investments -- such as those in T1 and N3rd Street Gamers -- is the grandson of Comcast founder Ralph J. Roberts. Tucker Roberts father, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, attended the ceremony on Wednesday but did not speak on stage. Brian Roberts also attended the inaugural Overwatch League Finals at the Barclays Center in New York, where he watched with his son as the Fusion competed, in July 2018.
"[That] was for a father and son relationship, for a father who doesn't play games and a son who does, a moment we could share," Tucker Roberts said during the ceremony. Roberts said he hopes that Fusion Arena will provide the same opportunity to fans and their families.