Boston Bruins is not the first hockey franchise to involve itself in esports—but it could be the biggest.
Delaware North, parent company of six-time Stanley Cup champions Boston Bruins, has announced a major partnership with esports organization Splyce.
Splyce currently fields teams for nine esports titles: League of Legends, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, Gears of War, and Super Smash Bros. Melee.
TD Garden, owned and operated by Delaware North, will serve as a home facility for Splyce, TD Garden president Amy Latimer told ESPN, with the potential for major esports events to take place in the arena in the future.
“We want to make it one of the toughest places to play in,” Latimer said. “Truly, we think we bring all of those attributes here. For us, it’s really just adding another Boston sports team to the landscape.”
Delaware North will also offer expertise in sales and marketing, as well as events and broadcasting.
“A major focus at Splyce is the application of traditional sports knowledge into our growing esports industry,” Splyce CEO Marty Strenczewilk said in a statement. “We are equally excited about the opportunity to rally one of the most passionate and loyal local fan-bases in professional sports into a legion of Splyce fans. With these powerful resources behind us, Splyce is equipped to become the premier esports team in the world.”
Traditional sports franchises are moving toward esports in droves. Last year, the Philadelphia 76ers purchased esports organizations Team Dignitas and Apex, while Team Liquid was acquired by an ownership group led by owners of the Golden State Warriors, Washington Capitals, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
A move toward localization of esports teams may be partially inspired by Overwatch developer Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League initiative. Blizzard wants to incorporate more aspects of traditional sports leagues, including having teams located in specific geographic areas.