‘Business as usual’ for Belong Arenas in the UK, says Frasers Group

Belong Arenas in the UK Excel

Belong Arenas in the UK will continue to remain open, despite the US Arenas closing, Esports News UK can confirm.

The spaces for competitive and casual gamers to hire out and play are still open in the UK.

A spokesperson from Frasers Group sent the following statement to Esports News UK: “We can confirm it is business as usual for Belong UK, as we continue to deliver unforgettable esports experiences.”

Johan Keely, esports and community manager for Belong Arenas UK, added in the Belong Discord in response to questions from the community: “I can’t comment on the situation in the US at this time, however the UK Arenas are still trading as normal.”

The confirmation comes after some confusion around the future of Belong Arenas in the UK, following a report by James Fudge at The Esports Advocate that Belong Gaming Arenas are ceasing operations in the US, with a majority of the staff based in the US being informed they’d been laid off.

“We can confirm it is business as usual for Belong UK, as we continue to deliver unforgettable esports experiences.”

Frasers Group

We also contacted Belong Arenas in the USA for clarification, and they sent us the same statement that was originally published by The Esports Advocate:

“After careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of our current business operations and strategic alternatives, we have unfortunately made the difficult decision to suspend the operations of our US Belong Gaming Arenas.  

“This decision was not made lightly, and we want to express our deep gratitude to our extraordinarily talented and dedicated staff members and our valued business partners, who have been instrumental in our development and success over the last 2+ years. Their hard work, commitment, and passion for providing excellent service and world class experiences have been the backbone of our business and our culture, and we extend our heartfelt appreciation to every one of them.

“We have had the privilege of serving this wonderful and unique community, and we are immensely grateful for the trust and support you have shown us. Our team has worked tirelessly to provide an inclusive and fun environment for gamers of all kinds. We continue to evaluate our business model and strategy with the goal of continuing to serve this community, that we know and love, in the future.”

Belong Arenas in the UK – who are they owned by and how do they differ from the shuttered US Arenas?

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Belong Arenas in the UK are owned by Frasers Group, a British retail, sport and IP group, named after its ownership of department store chain House of Fraser.

Frasers Group is run by Mike Ashley, the former Newcastle United owner, who is reportedly the 61st richest people in the UK, with an estimated networth of £2.78bn.

Frasers Group owns brands including UK retailer GAME, Sports Direct, Everlast Gyms, Slazenger, Evans Cycles, Flannels and more.

GAME first opened Belong stores in late 2016 after acquiring Multiplay and Insomnia Gaming Festival in early 2015.

GAME later sold Multiplay Digital in 2017 to Unity Technologies, then GAME sold Belong to US esports business Vindex in 2020. As part of that deal, GAME continued to own and operate Belong Arenas in the UK, while Vindex looked to open arenas in the US.

Now Vindex has closed the US arenas, while the UK has kept its Belong Gaming Arenas going.

Saying that, there have been some store closures over the years. Recently, the Stratford Spartans Belong Arena in Westfield Stratford City closed.

Different arenas have different branding to represent their location, and there’s the Belong Arena Clash grassroots esports tournaments for gamers to take part in.

The Belong Arenas UK website currently lists 27 store locations.

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