Nerd Street Gamers, the Philadelphia-based developer of esports training and competition facilities, has added Comcast Spectacor’s Tucker Roberts to its board of directors.
Roberts, president of Comcast Spectacor’s gaming division and the Philadelphia Fusion esports team, joins the board as Nerd Street Gamers looks to build 100 esports facilities across the country over the next five years, including inside Five Below stores and at college campuses. The company also produces esports events, including the Fusion’s first home games in Philadelphia earlier this month.
Roberts — son of Comcast CEO and Chairman Brian Roberts — replaces Joe Marsh, who was chief business officer for Spectacor Gaming and the Fusion. Marsh is now CEO of T1 Entertainment & Sports, an esports joint venture between Comcast and SK Telecom, based in South Korea.
Comcast Spectacor, the sports and entertainment company that owns the Wells Fargo Center and the Philadelphia Flyers, invested in Nerd Street Gamers in 2018 and was part of the company’s $12 million fundraising round in October.
“Tucker had been kind of the de facto board member anyway," John Fazio, founder and CEO of Nerd Street Gamers, said last week. “Tucker made the deal." Fazio continued that the two of them negotiated the deal. "He was the one who brought it in.”
Nerd Street Gamers declined to disclose Comcast’s ownership share, calling it a minority stake. In addition to Comcast, Nerd Street Gamers has received backing from Five Below, SeventySix Capital, Elevate Ventures, and angel investor George Miller.
“Nerd Street Gamers has a strong vision for the development of gaming infrastructure across the U.S.,” Roberts said in a statement. “The company is growing a community that connects gamers from all walks of life, while providing an amateur talent pipeline to the pro-gaming ranks.”
Comcast Spectacor plans to spend $50 million to build a 3,500-seat arena in South Philadelphia for the Fusion, one of 20 professional esports teams competing in Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League. Comcast wasn’t alone in investing in esports. Globally, more than $4.5 billion was invested in the industry in 2018 alone, according to Deloitte.
Owners of the the New England Patriots (Bob Kraft), Los Angeles Rams (Stan Kroenke), New York Mets (Jeff Wilpon), and Dallas Cowboys (Jerry Jones) have invested in esports teams, too.