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A flagship venue for esports opens its doors in DC

Esports has a new home in the District.

WASHINGTON — A new venue in D.C. hopes to capitalize on the growing popularity of esports. On Friday, Monumental Sports and Entertainment cut the ribbon on a new esports gaming center called District E Powered By Ticketmaster.

The 14,000-square-foot live-event theater adjacent to Capital One Arena offers a 365-day-a-year series of immersive experiences in esports, music, event programming, and community events – along with pre-and post-event activations for fans attending Capitals and Wizards games.

District E hopes to become a best-in-class competition and training venue for the esports franchises Monumental owns, operates, and invests in, including Wizards District Gaming and Caps Gaming. It will also serve as a catalyst to foster the amateur gaming community in the Greater Washington Metropolitan region and attract the growing influencer streaming community through its state-of-the-art streaming pods. Additionally, it will establish an East Coast satellite office for global esports powerhouse Team Liquid.

"We'll work with Ticketmaster to book acoustic shows and comedy tours,” said Zach Leonsis, President of Media & New Enterprises for Monumental.

Leonsis said he believes District E represents the next step in the maturation of esports competition.

"Obviously, we come from the traditional sports world where we are filling our arena with 20,000 people on a near-nightly basis,” he said. “Esports isn't quite there yet, but they are drawing tens of millions, and in some cases, for a game, like Leagues of Legends, hundreds of millions of people are watching,” he said.

Available to all esports and entertainment fans in DC and across the country, District E is currently the home of the 2023 NBA 2K League season and will welcome select BLAST Counter-Strike Spring Final events in June, in addition to a variety of different programming spanning esports, traditional sports viewing, and musical or comedic entertainment.

NBA 2K League President Brendan Donahue said the new Gallery Place location is impressive.

"We've always had a physical space for our top competition, but nothing like this,” he said.

Donahue added esports gaming is worthy of such a venue too.

"To put it in perspective, our finals last year, we had two million people watch,” he said.

Justin Howell, who goes by the gamer tag, “Just Awkward”, plays for the Wizards District Gaming esports team.

He said it was great to see a new space dedicated to his sport.

"Coming from playing in my home to this whole entire facility is like a dream come true," he said.

The very first 2K League esports competition at District E will take place Wednesday. Tickets are $10.

WUSA9 reached out to Monumental Sports regarding the new security presence around the arena, and received the following statement from Spokesperson Anu Rangappa:

"Monumental Sports has hired 20% more off-duty D.C. police officers on game days over the last season — with up to a dozen officers working each event, on top of those assigned to street closures. We have up to a dozen MPD officers each event night — from a roster pool of nearly 60 officers — whom we pay on top of the police provided by MPD’s Special Operations Division for F Street closure on game days. The increase in security presence isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to a spike in crime, or a specific incident. Monumental wants fans to enjoy themselves without having to worry at all about their safety. Together with our Downtown BID partners, we are also evaluating the most effective use of Reimbursable Detail Officers (RDOs) to patrol around our Chinatown neighborhood, but have moved forward with securing our own officers in the meantime."

For more information, visit District E's website here.

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