The Wide World Of Sports Complex has been apart of Disney's Orlando theme park for 20 years, covering 220 acres of land and featuring 10 tennis courts, a track and field complex and 11,500-person ballpark. Last year, Disney announced it would be building a new 8,000-person arena at the complex with a focus on cheerleading. However now that the company is dipping its toes into esports, it's looking into also hosting gaming events when it's finished with construction sometime next year.
“It is exciting because it isn't just cheer, it's basketball, it's volleyball, it’s esports with gaming. We are absolutely looking at esports and it's a wonderful venue for that,” Faron Kelley, Disney's Vice President of Sports at Disney World tells Forbes. “We are trying to keep up with what sports are breaking and how we can be involved in them … Esports is a big one we are looking at and are very excited about it.”
The world of esports tournaments thus far has proved a lucrative venture. Just yesterday, The International, the largest esports tournament, began with a prize pool of over $23 million. 20 million people are expected to be watching the event. The accountancy firm Deloitte tells Forbes that it estimates the esports industry made about $500 million in total revenue last year, up 25-percent over 2015.
"Everyone is learning at the same time about what is the best way to do this," Kelley told Forbes. "With our unique configuration, we could have an esports event going on at the same time as an eSports conference or expo in one of our other venues. We have got a lot of flexibility.”
Though no specific date was given, Kelley did say Disney would begin hosting esports events “very soon.”