The people behind SMASH Hotels are ready to have an impact on Chicago’s near south side. Smash INTERACTIVE (shout when you say that) is ready to ask the Chicago Plan Commission for permission to build an e-sports arena on an industrial plot at the southeast corner of the Stevenson Expressway and the CTA Green Line flyover.
You may know the north suburban Lincolnwood company from such hits as The Wit Hotel in The Loop, Hotel EMC2 in Streeterville, and the Havana Office Park in Aurora. OK, maybe not that last one.
“E-sports” have changed a lot since the days of romping around a dimly lit, heavily fogged Laser Tag arena to the throbs of mid-80’s techno trance. Today, it’s less fat kids fleeing in a terrified sweat, and more scrawny nerds enveloped in pleather La-Z-Boys, as run-and-gun has been replaced by thumbs-and-crumbs, removing the “active” portion of interactive entertainment. The e-sports industry is growing rapidly, with gamers and gapers traveling to tournaments around the world, so it makes sense to build this facility a half block off of South State Street, across the highway from McCormick Place.
The folks at SMASH (still yelling), plan to have as many as 1,040 people in its facility, which will also include room for restaurants and offices.
Plan hits Commission on March 18th. Until then, we’re still rocking Atari 2600 Burgertime.