By Ren Clayton

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most of us go to stadiums to see sports like baseball, soccer or football. Now, the booming esports industry is bringing gaming arenas to Minnesota.

Wisdom Gaming plans to open an 18,000-square-foot multi-use venue early next year at Mall of America.

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“This partnership with Mall of America was really born out of a shared goal of making the Twin Cities, and subsequently the Mall of America, a true hub for esports in North America,” Wisdom Gaming’s Nicole Du Cane said.

This new venture by Wisdom Gaming, and their professional team Torrent, is the first of its kind. The facility on the mall’s fourth floor is set to open early next year. It will be for amateur esports enthusiasts and the pros — maybe sparking an in-state rivalry.

(credit: CBS)

Potential rival gaming company Version1 is owned by the Wilf family, which also owns the Minnesota Vikings.

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“The fun thing about this is that Version1 Rocket League and Torrent, they both compete in the same league, Rocket League Championship Series. So yeah, this could be the start of a fun Minnesota rivalry,” Version1’s Cassie Batinich said.

Wisdom Gaming embraces the competition.

“We have a great friendly rivalry already with [Verson1], with our teams because we each have teams in Rocket League,” Du Cane said.

The esports industry is looking to build on growth in popularity during the pandemic.

“Coming out of that, people are going to be looking for more ways to engage with the communities that they’ve connected to online, because that’s what everyone was forced to turn to during the pandemic,” she said.

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The new facility will seat 120 fans who can buy tickets to watch the live esports competitions.

Ren Clayton