For Washington, D.C., being the capital of the United States of America isn’t enough. The city is looking to become the capital of something else entirely: esports.

North American esports team NRG Esports is now sponsored by D.C., the district’s official convention and sports authority, Events D.C. revealed to me in a series of interviews yesterday. Not only is the city’s sponsorship one of the first of its kind, it marks the District of Columbia’s official push into the world of professional competitive gaming.

Sponsoring a team like this is a way for D.C. to show that it’s embracing esports and gearing up to be an esports hub, said Events D.C. Chairman Max Brown.

“This is just another prong in our strategic approach to continue to make D.C. a great place to live and work and play,” he said.

D.C. is changing, said Brown, with an average of 1,000 people moving to the city every month. The influx of new people is causing the district to evolve from a government town to a broader and more diverse economy.

“We have a bunch of universities here in Washington,” said Brown. “There are lots of younger kids who are here and are coming here every year through our universities so we think it makes a lot of sense for us as a city to plant a flag [for esports], and ultimately be the capital of esports like we’re the capital of the United States.”

Normally younger audiences are more interested in esports, and it is important to have entertainment so that people keep coming at the rate that they are.

D.C.’s esports presence won’t just be logos on NRG Esports, though. The city is planning on building a brand new arena that sounds perfectly suited to host sizable esports events.

“A $65 million 4,200-seat, state-of-the-art arena,” Brown said. “[It will] come online in late-2018, early-2019. Fully tailored and wired for esports.”

The arena will be the new home of WNBA team the Washington Mystics. Though it’s being build with esports in mind, it’ll be open to host other events, like concerts and boxing matches.

The arena will be the new home of WNBA team the Washington Mystics. Though it’s being build with esports in mind, it’ll be open to host other events, like concerts and boxing matches.

NRG Esports co-founder Any Miller said bringing esports events to D.C. could be huge for local fans who would normally have to travel to major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta or Seattle to attend live events.

“These events sell out in two seconds, you need to travel, you need to spend good money and they’re big and they’re fun and they’re super cool but it’s not like, ‘I want to go watch my team play this weekend, head down and check them out at the local arena,'” Miller said. “That just doesn’t happen in esports, and that’s something that’s missing when you want to have a real connection with an organization and with players.”

 

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