Statistically, 70 percent of kids stop playing sports by the age of 13. This means rec centers have to get creative with their programming to reach the teen and young adult demographic. But that’s easier said than done. It’s all about offering the next “big thing.”

What is that next big thing? We think it’s esports.

Esports isn’t just playing video games. It’s so much more than that. Cities are building stadiums dedicated to it. Colleges are offering scholarships for it. People are paying big money to watch professionals play these games at a high level. And those who are professional esports athletes are earning millions of dollars a year. Anything that big is something that can work at a smaller, local level, and progressive rec centers around the country are starting to recognize this and are building dedicated spaces for it.

Esports has taken something that was once seen as a solitary activity and turned it into something that’s actually quite social. So, does it make sense for esports to be something your rec center considers? While there are many more benefits than these, here are three reasons we think esports are a compelling addition to every rec center’s programming.

Esports Can Help With Capacity Fluctuations

Every rec center deals with times when capacity is at its peak and times when it’s the opposite. Whether or not those fluctuations are based on the calendar or the events being offered, it’s ideal to even out those fluctuations. Because esports aren’t constrained by weather or lack of daylight, they provide a great way to make sure there is programming available year-round.

Also, because it’s not difficult to get a center esports-ready, it’s a great way to put some perpetually un-utilized or under-utilized space to good use.

Esports Engages Hard-to-Reach Audiences

With the common misconception that rec centers only offer “traditional sports,” it’s important to show that you offer programs for people with a multitude of interests. By creating an esports program, you can appeal to those who might not typically frequent a rec center.

This has the added benefit of potentially increasing revenue. By engaging those forgotten crowds, they become regulars at the center and ideally purchase memberships, ultimately boosting the dollars you’re able to bring in.

Esports Events Can Bring in Rental Revenue

Speaking of bringing in more money, esports is a great way to bring in money for the rec center, and not just through increased membership sales.

By investing in a dedicated space for esports, you’re creating a place that people outside of the rec center might want to use. Most esports events are tournaments, so renting out your dedicated space for these tournaments is a great opportunity to turn previously unused space into a revenue generator. This doesn’t even include the sale of tickets and concessions to spectators.

In 2019, esports’ global annual revenues surpassed $1 billion and will continue trending up for years to come. Some estimate that it will reach $3 billion by 2022. With this in mind, only a small number of rec centers have started offering esports programs. Now is the perfect time to get ahead of the curve and see your rec center reap the benefits of getting in on this booming industry.