Sports and esports investment and advisory firm Guinevere Capital has unveiled the Eden Park Esports High Performance Centre, a destination venue, content creation hub, and training facility.
Located in Auckland, Eden Park is New Zealand’s largest sports stadium and a common stamping ground of the All Blacks, the country’s national rugby union team. The Eden Park Esports Facility is expected to open in Q3 2020.
The new facility will provide professional practice spaces, stream booths, and broadcast capabilities to the best teams in ANZ, including Dire Wolves. The news comes as part of a week of significant announcements for the Dire Wolves, which has named a new management team as part of a major period of expansion.
The Eden Park Esports High Performance Centre will act as a community hub for gaming, with weekly leagues planned for the likes of New Zealand’s fighting game community, Standing Fierce. As well as performance and broadcast-orientated facilities, the centre will also feature LAN areas for larger events and be equipped with 5G and fiber capabilities.
Nick Sautner, CEO of Eden Park, shared his belief that the new space may welcome a younger audience that may have never attended a rugby or cricket match at Eden Park. “New Zealand’s national stadium is iconic and at the centre of many special memories for both Kiwis and tourists around the world,” he said. “The Esports High Performance Centre will showcase Eden Park’s ongoing ability to diversify, evolve, and be at the forefront of new technology.”
The Eden Park Esports Facility is the latest in a series of esports performance centres located at famous sports grounds that Guinevere Capital has played a part in launching. In 2017, Guinevere was involved with the opening of Australia’s first Esports High Performance Centre at the Sydney Cricket Ground, whilst in 2019, it helped British organisation Excel Esports find a home at Twickenham Stadium.
David Harris, Managing Director of Guinevere Capital, told Esports Insider that he believed the combining of esports spaces with traditional sports stadiums was a proven model that would continue to succeed. “From the very start, we’ve always had a strong belief in bringing together the traditional sports world and esports, be that from a commercialisation or a performance point of view.
“And there’s just so much unutilized space in some of the traditional sports stadiums, it makes it a win-win model. Particularly for a lot of the stadiums, be they the Sydney Cricket Ground, which has a membership base which is definitely ageing and probably not as diverse as they’d like it to be, and similar to Eden Park. So, I think the organisations in charge of these facilities are always very open to connecting with new audiences and esports is a fantastic medium for that.
He continued, “I certainly can’t take sole credit for Twickenham, but from the very first time I met Kieran and Joel [Holmes-Darby, of Excel Esports], we were very much aligned on philosophically, how those types of facilities made sense. And obviously what we did at Sydney Cricket Ground originally has been a model that’s been replicable in other markets. It’s a win-win for everyone involved when you do these facilities. And it’s a model that we’ve now done in multiple regions and multiple countries. I feel like there’s an opportunity to keep rolling out further and further across the world as the industries start to converge a bit between esports and sports.”
Harris added that he believed that, while esports was “breaking ground in a lot of areas” where sports would follow, esports “can always learn from the traditional sports,” especially when it comes to training spaces.
“I think that having these facilities is great for a hub where you can build your sports science and your training philosophies around it,” Harris said. “And also, it’s great for credibility with the mainstream. Not that you should be purely focused on that, but if you bring sponsors or investors to a facility in a traditional sports ground, they manage to get their head around it a little bit more quickly. And you suddenly get that bit of authenticity, even though esports is its own thing. It puts it sometimes in a context where other people, who haven’t grown up with esports, can understand it.”
Esports Insider says: We’ve seen Excel’s esports facility at Twickenham Stadium, and if the Eden Park Esports High Performance Centre will follow in the same footsteps, the Auckland community has a lot to be excited about.