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Check out the newest esports venue in DC

District E Powered By Ticketmaster hosts its first live esports event on Wednesday with the NBA 2K League.

A view of the District E arena. (Courtesy photo)

DC’s newest esports venue is officially open for business.

Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE) opened its District E Powered by Ticketmaster space in Chinatown on Friday. The 14,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to esports and other forms of entertainment. The venue features a stage, monitors, seating and streaming pods, with a reconfigurable and moveable setup. Officials say the venue can hold over 500, including within its bar and restaurant.

Besides viewing parties, the space will have live esports events with teams competing onstage. The first NBA 2K League in-person match will be held at the space Wednesday, MSE President Zach Leonsis (the son of CEO Ted Leonisis) told Technical.ly. In June, District E will also host the “NHL 23” North American Championships and spring final events for BLAST Counter-Strike. Additionally, Leonsis said that it will be planning pre and post-game activities for the Washington Wizards and Capitals later in the year, given District E’s proximity to the Capital One Arena.

“We think this studio format is the right one to garner a lot of attention for a lot of in-person experiences,” Leonsis said.

Leonsis hopes the District E space can foster the amateur gaming community in DC, as well as attract those interested in streaming. He noted that while it’s currently in a theater setup, up to 40 computer setups could be added for gaming tournaments. The space will also be an East Coast satellite office for esports’ Team Liquid. It can also function as a location for conferences, receptions and more events among the over 200 that Leonsis expects to book each year.

Leonsis added that DC needed an esports space because he thinks many in the region know about it, but only connect with it online and virtually — never mind all the people that he believes will better esports once they see it live.

“We wanted to make sure that when people do get a chance to see it in person, they have that ‘Aha’ moment,” Leonsis said. “They get a really good first impression, they feel the energy in the environment and they go: ‘This is cool and exciting and I understand why there are so many esports fans out there.'”

Tables and chairs in a restaurant-style setup. Screens with the District E logo are on the wall

Inside District E. (Courtesy photo)

MSE has been invested in esports since 2016; Leonsis said and the company has been working on competition space and training facilities ever since then. Following the pandemic, he was eager to create a space for in-person events.

As esports continues to grow and build, Leonsis thinks DC could be an esports “hotbed,” given the young, wired and tech-savvy community in the region.

“I’m hopeful that with this venue, which we think is going to be the flagship venue for esports in the mid-Atlantic, we can really become the rallying point for a variety of different tournaments and a variety of different communities,” Leonsis said. “We really want to be a community facilitator.”

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