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Esports Complex Opens Inside South Bend's Century Center

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A new esports arena inside South Bend’s Century Center will open to the public on Friday, Feb. 5, bringing competitive video gaming to Michiana.

Esports viewership mostly centers on competitive multiplayer video games like League of Legends or Fortnite – and it’s hugely popular. 

 

According to analytics company Newzoo’s Global Esports Market Report, viewership is projected to grow to almost 650 million by 2023.

 

Jeff Jarnecke, executive director of venues for the City of South Bend, said the city hopes to harness that growth by hosting regional and national tournaments at the new 500-seat Bendix Arena.

 

“We believe that this venture will attract folks from all around the region and, frankly, all around the country to come to South Bend,” he said.

 

The renovations to the Century Center’s Bendix Theater were funded by the county’s hotel-motel tax. The complex also has 36 gaming PCs and multiple XBox and PlayStation consoles.

 

Jarnecke says in addition to attracting competitions, he hopes the center will attract local gamers, becoming a youth community hub.

 

“The opportunity to build a place where they can call home, to have that sense of community, have that sense that they have a place to belong, was incredible,” he said.

 

The esports center will be open to the public from 2-10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and from 2 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Gaming starts at $6 an hour.

 

Jarnecke said capacity will be reduced for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic.

 

Contact Gemma atgdicarlo@wvpe.orgor follow her on Twitter at@gemma_dicarlo.

 

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(Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Esport viewership growth was predicted to be 6.5 million by 2023. The story has now been updated to accurately reflect that that figure should be 650 million.) 

Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.