Bendix Theatre receives funding for esports renovation, unveils new designs

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Gaming is no longer what it used to be. It’s now a multibillion-dollar industry, and officials are making sure Bendix Theatre in South Bend is a part of that industry.

"We learned today that we have the funding. Two million dollars’ worth of funding to be able to enhance our 694-seat theater into a state-of-the-art contemporary and arena that can host esports in addition to everything that we host today,” South Bend Venues Executive Director Jeff Jarnecke said.

The Hotel Motel St. Joseph County Tax Board confirmed at a meeting Thursday that the funding to renovate Bendix Theatre in South Bend into an esports arena will come from a 6% tax on hotels in St. Joseph County.

Along with the funding, the new Bendix Arena logos and attire were unveiled for the very first time.

“It’s feeling very real. It’s exciting, it’s incredible. We’re envisioning something that is youthful, that’s energetic, that’s inclusive and that’s aggressive, something that is fun and different than anything we’ve seen in South Bend,” Jarnecke said.

The renovation will include the addition of massive monitors, video boards and new game seating, something Hotel Motel Tax Board President John Anthony says will not only impact the gaming world in South Bend but help enhance the city as well.

“We think that it will stimulate traffic in downtown, activity in downtown. The esports arena attracts a lot of youth, a lot of energy and a lot of bright minds,” Anthony said.

According to a report, there are more than 2 billion gamers worldwide right now. When Anthony was asked if he is one of those 2 billion, he did not hold back.

“I know nothing about gaming, but i know that I see a lot of smart money around the country getting into gaming, and I like the fact that South Bend could be on the leading edge of this and not just watching while it leaves our community and goes elsewhere to participate. We’d like to see it coming in,” Anthony said.

Officials are hoping construction will begin in January and want to have the new Bendix Arena ready to go by the summer of 2020.