Chicago’s City Council has greenlit a $30 million proposed esports and virtual reality arena for a site along South Wabash Avenue that’s just a stone’s throw from McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America, in the South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville. The enthusiastic blessing from the full City Council came on Wednesday of this week, just a day after the project cleared a formidable hurdle in the form of the council’s Zoning Committee.
As previously reported by AN, the 108,000-square-foot facility, dubbed SURGE, is the brainchild of Chicago real estate developer, hotelier, and self-described “design perfectionist” Scott Greenberg, who first revealed plans for the KOO-designed arena late last year. Greenberg’s firm, ECD, partnered with Chris Lai of Chicago-based virtual reality gaming company MassVR to form Smash Interactive, a new venture heading the project. When completed, it will be the first stadium dedicated to professional gaming competitions in Chicago with room for over 1,000 players and spectators. Outside of Chicago, sizable esports arenas are planned for cities including Toronto, Philadelphia, and Arlington, Texas. (All three venues were designed by Populous.)
The Architect’s Newspaper