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Report: Toronto’s OWL and CDL teams to get ‘7,000 to 10,000-seat’ esports arena

OverActive Media to position venue adjacent to BMO Field and Hotel X Toronto.

15 July 2020 Sam Carp

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  • Toronto set to house one of largest esports-specific arenas in North America
  • OverActive appoints former MLSE vice president to oversee venue development

OverActive Media, which owns franchises in video game publisher Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League (OWL) and Call of Duty League (CDL), is planning to build an esports arena in Toronto, according to ESPN.

A memo sent to Canadian government officials by OverActive chief executive Chris Overholt and seen by ESPN says the venue will have the capacity for 7,000 to 10,000 fans and be positioned adjacent to Hotel X Toronto and BMO Field, home to Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Toronto FC.

The venue will reportedly serve as the home of the Toronto Ultra and Toronto Defiant, the latter of whom were due to stage their OWL homestand weekends this year at the Canadian city’s Roy Thomson Hall.

ESPN added that OverActive, which also owns Spanish esports franchise Mad Lions, has appointed Bob Hunter to coordinate with government authorities on the arena. The former Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) vice president has previously been involved in the development of other Canadian sports venues, including BC Place, Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena.

If the reported capacity is correct, OverActive’s venue would be one of the largest esports-specific arenas in North America.

The ESPN report comes after Overholt revealed to SportsPro in October that OverActive hopes to have its own “theatre-style venue” within the next five years.

“We do aspire to own our own venue, or own it and develop it with partners,” he said at the time. “Our principal shareholders, the Kimel family, are real estate developers, that’s their core business, so we started that conversation early.

“We’ve been in active conversations over this past year, we continue to be in active conversations now, but I do imagine that at some point over a three to five-year period we’ll be seeking to have found a way to develop a theatre-style venue inside of Toronto that would hold, say, 6,000 to 8,000 seats that could be home for our two teams based in Toronto, and also be a great home to sports and entertainment content generally.”

ESPN added that the deal for the Toronto venue was agreed between the Kimel family and Henry Kallan, the owner of Hotel X Toronto.

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