This week, Major League Baseball teams will hit the pitch for Spring Training ahead of next month's start to the regular season. But Chris Park, a former baseball executive, has oped for a different kind of ball field for his second act.
Recently, the former MLB executive vice president responsible for growth, strategy and operations was at Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles for the season two kick off of Activision Blizzard's Overwatch League (OWL). In January, the 39-year-old was appointed CEO of Korean esports organization Gen.G. The team is valued at $110 million, according to Forbes, and it boasts rosters in six different esports leagues -- including OWL and the popular League of Legends game.
The move puts Park in the midst of what research firm Newzoo predicts will be a $1 billion industry this year, and marks the entry of another sports executive into the space. The firm's data show that almost $410 million of that revenue pool will come from the North American market.
Esports viewership numbers, which have surpassed many landmark sports events, are also projected to reach just over 453 million viewers by the end of this year. It makes a tantalizing opportunity for people like Park, a Harvard-trained lawyer who spent years developing his craft as a baseball executive.
"I have paid attention to esports through the lens that this is the first sport born on digital media that was global almost from its inception," Park told CNBC in a recent interview. "It's probably the closest thing we've seen to a user-generated sport."