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Contender eSports expects to debut in January, following rise in competitive multiplayer video gaming.
Contender eSports expects to debut in January, following rise in competitive multiplayer video gaming.

Esports center to launch in Springfield

Posted online

A Springfield-based esports franchise company is just a few weeks away from pressing play on a local video gaming center.

Contender eSports Springfield LLC is expected to open by January, said franchise founder Brett Payne.

He started the umbrella company, Contender eSports LLC, in September 2018, following the steady rise in the competitive multiplayer video gaming industry. Four franchises have been sold, and now Payne and his wife Kristi are opening the first in Springfield, at 3010 S. National Ave.

“We want to elevate the awareness of esports in Springfield,” Payne said. “I think Springfield can very much be an epicenter of this industry in the Midwest.”

Games that will be offered at Contender eSports include League of Legends, Overwatch and Fortnite, he said. It’ll also hold tournaments, seasons and leagues for all games.

Infill is ongoing in the 2,500-square-foot space, which Payne said formerly housed a check advance and payday loan agency. The Paynes signed a five-year lease for an undisclosed rate with SVN/Rankin Co.

Brett Payne said the first Contender eSports franchise location opened in June in Toledo, Ohio, followed by centers in Houston, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana. The company, based in the Efactory at 405 E. Jefferson Ave., has signed agreements for over a dozen more franchisecenters to open around the country in 2020, he said.

According to the company’s website, the investment for a franchise ranges from $199,400 to $325,180, including a $39,000 franchise fee. Payne said he expects startup costs to land around $260,000 to open the Springfield center. 

Aside from his Contender eSports businesses, Payne also owns marketing and consulting firm Kinetic 5 Consulting LLC. He intends to maintain ownership of the firm along with the new ventures. He said he will not be among the four employees at the gaming center upon its opening next month.

Payne said Contender eSports would be open late at night seven days a week – midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday – with visitors given the option to pay by the hour, purchase day or night passes or sign up for monthly memberships.

“It’s not just for guys,” he said of the target audience. “It’s for girls, families – it’s for everybody.”


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