Nerd Street Gamers has raised $12 million in funding from Philadelphia discount retailer Five Below (and others) to build esports Localhost facilities that house leagues, training camps, tournaments, and showcases.
Other investors include Comcast, SeventySix Capital, Elevate Capital, and angel investor George Miller. The deal is one more example of an investment boom for esports. Professional teams, as well as amateur esports players, can use these centers. Amateurs can rent the spaces when needed.
As part of the deal, Five Below and Nerd Street Gamers will build 3,000-square-foot Localhost spaces connected to select Five Below locations, beginning with a multi-store pilot in 2020. Based on what they learn from the pilot, the companies will determine future plans, which could include 70 or more locations over the next several years.
“This round of funding led by Five Below and the opportunity of Localhost locations connected to Five Below stores empowers our vision of a world where esports is accessible and inclusive for everyone,” said John Fazio, the CEO of Nerd Street Gamers, in a statement. “Too few have access to the type of equipment and internet connections required to compete at the top levels, and by addressing that at a national scale we can increase real-life opportunities for millions of people.”
“Having one of the fastest growing and most successful retailers support our mission takes us one step closer to making it a reality,” added Fazio. “This funding will accelerate our technology platform growth, and by working with Five Below, we will be in a position to open venues in every major city in the country, bringing esports to a whole new segment of gamers.”
These esports experiences connect the gaming community through live, in-person events played on pro-level equipment. Five Below has 850 stores in 36 states in the U.S.
“The partnership with gaming expert Nerd Street Gamers is a unique opportunity to engage with an important and growing community of gamers in many of our locations across the country,” said Joel Anderson, CEO of Five Below, in a statement. “Gaming is a trend our younger customers are actively enjoying, and working with Nerd Street Gamers will help us to provide an exciting gaming experience that appeals to our core customers and beyond, while also showcasing our extreme value technology-related products and accessories.”
In addition to the Localhosts connected to Five Below stores, Nerd Street Gamers hopes to build 50 larger regional and university-based facilities. Just last month, Nerd Street Gamers opened Localhost Huntington Beach, a 32,000-square-feet regional facility, Localhost Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, the first public gaming facility in a pro sports arena, and announced Localhost Rowan University, one of many projects to bring professional-grade esports training facilities to universities across the country.
Nerd Street Gamers has 37 employees.