The NBA’s involvement in esports is continuing its rapid expansion.
With the launch of the NBA 2K League only months away, the Sacramento Kings announced plans to build a brand new gaming facility and content studio in the Golden 1 Center, the team’s home arena.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 7, 2017
Sacramento is one of 17 NBA teams participating in the 2K League, but the addition of an esports center will seemingly go beyond the Kings’ commitment to the inaugural 15-week season. Billed as a “venue in a venue”, the team is hoping to draw professional gamers, community groups and athletes to the facility for everything from training sessions to tournaments. The center will include the capability to stream events as well as seating for a live audience.
“Using technology to engage with our fans and reach new audiences has always been core to our organization’s mission,” Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement. “Golden 1 Center is the most advanced arena for basketball, entertainment and esports. This state-of-the-art facility will set a new standard and provide the best-in-class tools that the next generation of superstar gamers need to train, compete and win.”
For touring acts visiting Sacramento, the facility will also operate as a backstage lounge featuring numerous gaming titles and platforms along with professional-grade DJ equipment to record new music.
The investment speaks to the lengths the NBA is willing to go to secure a foothold in the world of professional gaming.
Earlier this year, the Washington Wizards announced plans to build a new arena in southeast D.C. to house the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and serve as a training center for the Wizards’ own 2K League team. Both the Kings, Wizards and NBA 2K League officials have made clear that their professional gamers drafted onto the league’s teams will be treated to all the same amenities as the players on their NBA franchise counterparts.
The 2K League, which is preparing to launch its global tryout in January, has sent NBA teams diving deeper and deeper into the world of esports. Recently HyperX was named the official gaming headset partner of the Dallas Mavericks.
Still, the development of a gaming center inside an NBA team’s arena is particularly notable. It shows that neither individual franchises nor the league itself is taking esports as a short-term opportunity to engage fans.
This is where the NBA believes its global footprint can grow, and where it can develop the next wave of basketball enthusiasts.
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