OverActive Media talk about new forward-thinking Toronto esports venue
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Original Reporting

As the owners of the Toronto Defiant and Toronto Ultra, Canadian organization OverActive Media represents the largest Canadian city in two separate esports leagues. As of Dec. 16, 2021, OverActive Media has been given full approval from city council to start building their own arena in downtown Toronto, aiming to bring live esports to the city they’ve developed a fan base in.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic causing live events to be more difficult to put on, OverActive Media is persevering and continuing with its plans for an esports and entertainment venue in the heart of Toronto, Canada. This new complex’s construction will begin in 2022, with a completion goal of 2025.

One of the leaders at OverActive Media, Senior Vice President Bob Hunter, has a lot of experience in opening new venues across North America. Some examples include BMO Field, the Air Canada Centre and the Skydome within Toronto. His experience opening new entertainment buildings for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment helped bring this project to fruition.

Breaking ground in 2022, opening in 2025

With esports, new venues have to accommodate new technology. As much as this venue is meant for more than just esports, it has to fit that type of location. One of the ways this new development is meant to appeal to fans is its capacity for both hardware and spectators.

“With the plans we have for this venue, we have smart guys trying to make it very high-tech,” Hunter said. “Not only do we want this to be great for esports, but we want to make it great for any entertainment that might come this way in the future.”

As for opportunities that this venue could bring, OverActive Media has already had talks with big companies for potential future events. These potential collaborators include LiveNation for concerts, as well as award shows like the Canadian JUNO awards. The venue is focused on medium-sized events, as Toronto already has big arenas and small venues to choose from.

A new local staple for esports

As an OverActive Media creation, this will be the home arena for its Toronto-based teams, and is only a half-hour walk from the iconic CN Tower. Plus, the interest in Toronto as an esports hub is growing. Big events have already been tied to Toronto, such as Scotiabank Place hosting the semifinals of the 2022 League of Legends World Championship.

“We have worked closely with our partners to begin to realize the immense potential of this region of the city while furthering Toronto’s position as a global esports hub,” Chris Overholt, president and CEO of OverActive Media, said. “Our vision is to create an unparalleled experience for fans and entertainment artists alike.”

The ideas behind this unparalleled experience range from gaming to comedy and cosplay. Plus with the current plans, a hotel will be part of the venue, run by a group separate from OverActive Media. Having that hotel space for big events may prove to be a smart move if the Toronto Defiant’s original homestands are anything to go off of.

Speaking of the Defiant, their current home within Toronto is downtown, at the OverActive facility alongside the Toronto Ultra. As this new arena develops into their home turf, the plan is for that place to be their new facility.

The Defiant play a match in the facility’s gaming studio. | Provided by OverActive Media

“Our plans right now are to eventually have both the Defiant and Ultra to be housed at this new venue,” said Adam Adamoum the co-founder, CSO & Head of Esports at OverActive Media. “This includes greenrooms, content studios, visiting team practice areas and more.”

The esports Sydney Opera House

The plans for this new location are immense, and with the green light from the city council, the project is a go. While the opening of this arena is still years away, Adamou has a clear vision of what this place will be for fans of esports and entertainment alike within the city of Toronto. With talks already starting with collegiate esports teams and for other live events, this place is aiming to make waves.

“We’re looking to create something iconic like the Sydney Opera House,” said Adamou. “But for today’s generations of entertainment fans, especially esports. A lot of current venues are designed for older generations, but we’re designing for those 13 to 25-year-old fans to help solidify Toronto as a leader of entertainment.”

Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.