On Monday, March 20, Pete Powell, chief of staff and vice president of Nerd Street, joined “Pizza With the Pros” to discuss Nerd Street’s new location on Rowan Boulevard and the present and future of the esports industry.
In 2021 the global esports market size was valued at $1.2 billion and has been projected to grow from $1.44 billion last year to $5.48 billion by 2029, according to Fortune Business Insights.
While very much still in its infancy — and causing plenty of controversies as it grows — esports is becoming a formidable force in the larger sports landscape, with competitions and tournaments with multi-million dollar prize pools happening constantly worldwide.
Nerd Street is just another vessel into the world of esports. According to their LinkedIn, “the company promotes greater access to the esports industry, laying a national framework for esports talent development and high-quality gaming tournaments.”
“We’re not tied to one game, we’re not tied to one pro league, we’re an amateur, sort of, ecosystem builder,” said Powell. “We’re building the little league fields for gamers. Go back in history to when basketball started becoming a thing, somebody had to start building basketball courts. That’s what we’re doing.”
Powell, who grew up a Philadelphia sports fan, spent 13 years with Comcast Spectacor working in talent acquisition, human resources, and employee relations. Additionally, Powell also worked closely with the development of the Philadelphia Fusion — an esports team now based in Seoul, South Korea, that specializes in playing the popular Overwatch game — in which Comcast Spectacor had invested in.
It wasn’t until Powell attended an Overwatch championship final at the Wells Fargo Center that he truly began to understand the magnitude of esports.
“15-16,000 people sold-out Wells Fargo Center and people were going nuts for a bunch of kids sitting on a stage playing video games and I was sort of in awe,” Powell said. “It was really, really cool. And one of the first things I noticed was the age of most of the people that were there, they were under the age of 18. So I started to think, ‘you know what, there might be something to this.’”
In September of 2019, it was announced that Nerd Street would invest over $1 million in the construction of an 8,000-square-foot gaming facility on Rowan’s campus. As with most things, the project was put on hold because of the pandemic, but the investment will finally come to fruition this spring when the facility finally opens.
According to Powell, the facility will feature a reception desk, a central gaming area that houses 80 PCs and a dozen gaming consoles, a stage for championship games, and a lounge.
“This could really be a unique type of thing. And I’ll stress this, to date, we have not built a facility on a college campus. You guys are the first ones. Which makes this really cool for us, but I think even more of a benefactor will be you guys, quite honestly,” Powell said.
Next week at “Pizza With the Pros,” former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski will talk about his time playing the game, covering the game, and his newest role as CEO of Ron Jaworski Golf Management in which he oversees seven courses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
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