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MAGIC discusses plans for state-of-the-art e-sports entertainment venue in Westminster

Westminster nonprofit Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, more commonly known as MAGIC, has updated plans for its new downtown office space and asked the city for its support on a proposed e-sports entertainment venue in TownMall of Westminster.

Graham Dodge, the executive director of MAGIC, presented a design plan late last month to Westminster’s mayor and council for an e-sports entertainment arena to be located in TownMall. The proposed arena will feature state-of-the-art equipment, stadium seating, private rooms, a concert venue, a cocktail lounge and a mezzanine level for private events.

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Dodge asked the mayor and council to consider partnering with MAGIC on the e-sports arena, and estimated a $6 million to $8 million commitment from Westminster would be needed.

“These are my recommendations and requests. … I estimated 5% to 10% of the total development cost as a potential investment by the city, but that really could change depending on what the city will commit to,” Dodge said during the Jan. 24 public meeting. “I want to make sure that’s in your consideration for fiscal year 2023 as we go out to start raising the funds.”

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Council member Kevin Dayhoff told Dodge it was a “great presentation,” and council members Daniel Hoff and Ann Thomas Gilbert said they were intrigued by the project. They agreed they needed more time to consider the presentation.

“It’s very interesting [and] very fascinating stuff, but in context to all the other needs [we should] do some soul searching about where we deploy the money that we do have for the best use for the citizens,” Hoff said. “I think we need time to digest some things and think it through.”

The e-sports project is in the very early stages of development, according to Dodge. TownMall is undergoing a revitalization project, he said, and the arena’s construction could coincide with the mall’s redevelopment.

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“We’re circling interest from any private equity firms or investors that want to be part of that new investment opportunity and we’re talking to potential sponsors about naming rights to the arena as well sponsoring various teams and activities for the proposed development of the arena,” Dodge said.

Dodge said housing the arena at the mall would be an “ideal scenario” but the plans are not contingent on the mall’s redevelopment plan.

“It could be built somewhere entirely separate that’s not connected to the mall,” Dodge said.

Dodge also told the mayor and council about the nonprofit’s move to a new office and community space at 38 Main St., Westminster. The new site, he said, will eventually be home to workshops in cybersecurity, autonomous vehicle technology and game development education, but is not quite ready for visitors.

“We’re still getting everything finished up and getting furniture,” Dodge said.

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MAGIC recently received grants to help build out the space with equipment and furnishings, according to Dodge. The nonprofit received a $100,000 grant from Gula Tech Foundation, based in Howard County, and a $15,000 grant from the Trumpower Foundation, based in Carroll County.

The nonprofit is also working to bring an autonomous corridor project to downtown Westminster to connect residents to attractions in the community.


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