Nerd Street Gamers and discount retailer Five Below have revealed the next stage of their esports venue project – establishing a Localhost arena in a Five Below location in Oceanside, California. The arena is the first step of a broader plan for Nerd Street to expand into California.
“As we continue to expand across the country, we wanted to become even more connected with the West Coast gaming community and increase our footprint in California,” Nerd Street Gamers CEO John Fazio told The Esports Observer. “We have our regional, 20,000+ square foot Localhost opening in [Los Angeles] later this year, as well as an additional Five Below location slated to open in Bakersfield this Spring. When choosing each location, we dive into the community surrounding it such as local schools, universities, and demographics. Oceanside has a history of strong local gaming communities that we’re excited to connect with.”
In addition to providing typical tournament and event opportunities to a local market, Nerd Street plans to engage with local schools to establish Localhost locations as potential practice/competition spaces for high school and college esports teams. One barrier to the widespread establishment of scholastic esports has been the availability of high-end computers that would allow teams to practice and play effectively in the most popular esports titles.
To that end, the larger facility in Los Angeles could serve as a connection point for regional competitions that draw from localized leagues. “You might play in your high school league at Oceanside, while you can expect your State Championship to be in our LA facility,” Fazio said.
Five Below was the lead investor in Nerd Street Gamers’ $12M Series A round in October of 2019. One year later, the first three Five Below x Localhost facilities were established in Georgetown, Texas, St. Louis, Missouri, and in Nerd Street’s home city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“One of our core goals of partnering with Five Below is to increase access to the equipment and technology required to be successful in competitive gaming. During the pandemic shutdown, when students had to receive their education online, we learned just how many homes and individuals throughout the country lack access to computers and internet, and how important our Localhost facilities are for the growth of esports. With our Localhost and Five Below locations, we are working to solve this problem by bringing access to opportunities for gamers at a national scale.“