Details of the Populous-designed performance venue slated for Toronto’s historic CNE grounds were released today by OverActive Media, the global esports and entertainment organization behind the privately financed project.
Projected to be completed by 2025, the near $500 million theatre-style entertainment venue is a strategic extension of the master plan for the region previously established by the city officials.
“Today is another important step in the evolution of OverActive Media,” said Chris Overholt, the company’s president and CEO. “We are building a world-leading, 21st-century sports media and entertainment company and this best-in-class performance venue will be the chosen home for a new generation of fans that think differently about their entertainment choices and experiences.”
Once up and running, the company expects the 7,000-seat facility to host more than 200 events a year, driven by premium music and entertainment bookings. It will also serve to attract major city-wide conventions, corporate events, product launches, awards shows, and naturally, a full slate of esports events increasing over time.
OverActive Media is the owner of four major global esport franchises, including Toronto’s two professional teams—Toronto Ultra of the Call of Duty League and Toronto Defiant of the Overwatch League.
“It has always been our intention to develop a venue and hosting strategy and to build a facility that could not only serve as an iconic home for our two franchises but ultimately emerge as a global hub for major international esport events,” explained Overholt. “We are already in active discussions to attract some of the biggest esport events in the world. This venue will redefine Toronto’s event hosting opportunities in every way.”
Populous, the global design firm charged with conceiving the building’s composition, has a project portfolio that includes Yankee Stadium, the London Olympics and the Super Bowl.
Jonathan Mallie, senior principal and lead designer for Populous, said the design of the theatre was “neither conceived as a sports arena nor an opera house.” It is, he explained, a new typology that straddles the two—a state-of-the-art performance venue.
“The theatre architecture creates a merger of the old and the new. The old channelling the rhythmic repetition of historic landmark theatres, and the new, integrating the progressive forms of avant-garde 21st-century design,” said Mallie. “In combination, a symbiotic balance delivers a one-of-a-kind theatre experience, unique to Toronto and the world.”