Burbank will soon be the permanent home of a professional broadcast facility tailor-made for competitive video-game events, or e-sports, and its burgeoning fans.
Video-game company Blizzard Entertainment, whose game "Overwatch" surpassed 30 million players this year, announced Thursday it will open a 50,000-square-foot studio dedicated to delivering its live e-sports events year-round.
The venue will be called Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, and it will be housed in the Burbank Studios, former home of "The Tonight Show." According to David Gordon, public relations manager for Blizzard, the facility will be equipped with three studio spaces and two production control rooms.
One studio will be designed to hold a live audience of about 450 people, depending on the event, with stadium seating and some floor space. The other two studios will be used only for production purposes, such as broadcasting a commentary team or players competing remotely.
The facility will also have a practice space so players can prepare for competition — such as a locker room for its video-game athletes. A retail store with Blizzard merchandise will also open in the facility.
With the year-over-year growth of e-sports and the increasing number of events across Blizzard's franchises, Gordon said the dedicated studios will prevent the company from building an arena from scratch every time.
"Having an existing space like this, we'll have fully built-in capabilities where we can basically turn the lights on and tweak some things from event to event," he said. "We've definitely learned from all the events we've put on over the years."
The Burbank Studios will serve as a centralized location and not as the company's only event space for e-sports, as it will continue to host competitions both nationally and abroad. In August, Blizzard held an "Overwatch" competition at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, and it will host a championship game at its annual fan convention in Anaheim.
"We're at a tipping point for e-sports, and we look forward to helping usher in a new era of competition-based entertainment," said Mike Morhaime, chief executive and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, in a statement. "As we open the doors of Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and welcome fans from around the world, we're honored to bring the best in Blizzard e-sports to the same stage that some of the biggest names in entertainment have called home."
The arena will open on the weekend of Oct. 7 and 8, when it will broadcast the playoffs for the company's first season of its developmental "Overwatch Contenders" league for hopeful professionals.
For more information about purchasing tickets for opening weekend, visit bit.ly/2xbHvlk.