Drive-in esports arenas may soon be opening across the US

Drive-in esports arenas may be the next attraction in the coronavirus era.

Real estate firm Horizon Group Properties inked a deal with esports analytics company Harena Data to develop esports arenas and drive-in movie theaters in four major US cities, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.

Initially, the arenas will be located in the parking lots of Horizon-owned malls in Louisville, Ky., Gettysburg, Pa., and El Paso and Laredo in Texas. Harena, through its USA Drive-Ins subsidiary, would provide screens, projectors and staffing for the new drive-in theaters, where esports fans would be able to watch video-game tournaments and compete in events from the safety of their cars.

“These drive-ins are a new and updated, albeit retro, component of centers, that give shoppers added reason to visit their local retailers,” James Harris, managing director at the Illinois-based Horizon said Friday. “To top it off we know this exciting attraction will have safety as a priority.”

Esports has become a big business over the last few years with top gamers earning up to $15,000 an hour to broadcast them playing games like Fortnite, Dota2 and League of Legends to millions of viewers across YouTube and Twitch. Last year, 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf took home the Fortnite World Cup, pocketing $3 million in prize money.

Last year, Goldman Sachs estimated that esports and online game streaming viewership will reach 276 million people by the year 2022, which would surpass the audience of the National Football League with 270 million viewers.

“We’re confident in our ability to orchestrate large-scale tournaments with Horizon to bring the joy and thrill of drive-in experiences back to communities,” said Harena Data chief strategy officer Bill Dever. “Our world today has a changing level of interaction and communication, which we believe can be used to create incredible esports events.”

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