Dundee esports arena: Budget, timescale and ambitions revealed

The enormous budget and timeline for the Dundee esports arena have been revealed.

Northern Lights Arena Europe (NLAE) intends to build a 4,000 capacity arena at the Waterfront.

The firm has an exclusive agreement to develop sites 10 and 11 – between Slessor Gardens and the Apex Hotel.

© Action Press/Shutterstock
An esports contest taking place in Cologne, Germany

Luc Delany, director of technology and esports for NLEA, has shared more details of the firm’s vision for the arena.

What are the plans and when will it be built?

At a Built Entertainment Networking webinar today, Mr Delany revealed the budget for the project will sit between £40 million and £60m.

The firm hopes it will be completed in 2024.

A design shown when plans were announced in September will not be the final look of the building.

Mr Delany said the company was “going back to the drawing board”.

There are three main elements to the proposal – the esports arena, education and working space for related companies.

What are esports?

Esports are professional sports competitions using computer games.

Often it sees teams of professional players compete against each other.

Popular games for competitions are Fortnite, League of Legends, Dota 2, Call of Duty and Counter-Strike.

A general view of the final of the Solo competition at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup at Flushing Meadows Arthur Ashe stadium in Queens, New York in 2019.

Competitions being live streamed online through platforms like Twitch is one of the main reasons for an explosion in popularity.

In 2019, a prize pool of $227m was shared between more than 25,000 players in 5,000 tournaments.

Huge economic benefits

“The game tournaments look more like a rock concert with thousands of people over multiple days,” said Mr Delany.

“At an event in Poland there were 8,000 people in one venue over three days.

“It drew 150,000 extra visitors came to that city over the weekend generating millions in revenue and filling the hotels.

“This has a huge economic positive impact.”

Dundee could become ‘streaming capital’

The digital infrastructure required for the Dundee esports arena is world-class and that could have far reaching benefits.

It will require the fastest internet connections and the highest level of digital security.

Mr Delany said NLEA is working closely with various parts of Amazon to make Dundee the “world’s best streaming venue”.

“Our discussions with Amazon was initially on the education side. They do restart programmes with people who have been made redundant.

© Shutterstock / Gorodenkoff
Team of gamers in an esports tournament.

“We like their model of providing training and education to all levels – further, higher and life.

“In the portfolio of Amazon’s businesses is Twitch, the world’s largest streaming platform, responsible for about 80% of all content.

“We are partnering with them to consider how do we make the Dundee arena the world’s best streaming venue.

“This is looking at not just how we stream events but the best architectural design.

“This is not just about esports. In a world where we are trying to travel less or maybe can’t travel at all, the arena will be somewhere you can broadcast world class events.”


Other partners on the Dundee esports arena project are Abertay University and D&A College.

Abertay will have on-site facilities and intends to develop a range of new esport degree courses.

Mr Delany said this would be a way of attracting people to technology courses and help fill a skills gap.

“We have a huge skills shortage of technical skills across the UK.

© DC Thomson
An Abertay University games student plays a virtual reality game.

“You may go and study esports. Esports requires network engineering to make sure the game doesn’t get hacked during a live tournament which could have prize money of $5m.

“So you go to study something you are interested in – video games and esports. You end up learning about network engineering and security and you could end up in a job with IBM”

“We need to find ways to attract people into these technological roles.

“By providing facilities that can be used for further and higher education, we think our building and our partners are ways of being part of the levelling-up mission.”

More on Dundee esports arena:

Plans for a 4,000 capacity esports arena at Dundee Waterfront

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