Competitive video gaming is coming to Arlington, putting roots down the street from where the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys play.
The city announced plans Wednesday to open a 100,000-square-foot Esports Arlington Stadium. The venue could be hosting digital competitions and tournaments by September or October, said Ron Price, president and CEO of the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The city will remodel the inside and outside of the Arlington Convention Center to transform it into the largest esports arena in the country. The renovation will cost $10 million and includes city dollars as well as participation by Esports Venues LLC, who has a 10-year lease agreement.
“Not only will we bring in the biggest and best in esports and bring hundreds of thousands of people to the city for these events, but when there’s not a gaming event going on, our meetings will still be going on,” Price said. “It will be a stadium that meetings take place in. We’re repurposing the entire building.”
The facility could host 20 to 36 esports tournaments a year of varying sizes.
“Depending on the crowd size, we can actually create a modular environment that can house multiple different crowds,” said Jonathon Oudthone, president of NGAGE Esports, the company that will manage the arena. “You could see events happening here every week.”
ESPORTS STADIUM WILL ATTRACT A GLOBAL AUDIENCE
Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said it will be the largest and most flexible sports stadium in the country.
“Esports Stadium Arlington will further cement our city’s status as a national and international tourist destination,” Williams said. “Players and fans will come here for the tournaments and they’ll stay even longer to experience everything Arlington has to offer.”
“Esports Stadium Arlington will further cement our city’s status as a national and international tourist destination.”
Mayor Jeff Williams
The adaptive re-use of the stadium will bring new life to the convention center and help attract a millennial crowd.
The main ballroom at the convention center will be outfitted with new audio and visual equipment and the best wireless internet to ensure secure connections for competitors. In addition to the main competition space, there will be retail and social areas, VIP hospitality, a broadcast studio, and team training areas.
The facility could have 1-on-1 games all the way to 6-on-6 competitions on the stage in front of up to 1,000 fans in the crowd. Then, it will all be broadcast out to a global audience.
Ken Hersh, co-owner of Envy Gaming, said the skill and concentration needed for esports rivals that of physical sports.
Hersh invested in the Arlington facility and said it could feature new technology like streaming services, in-game chat, and blockchain technology for micro transactions.
ESPORTS COULD BECOME $1.5B INDUSTRY AROUND THE WORLD
Esports is growing fast and could become a $1.5 billion industry around the world by 2020, the city noted in its announcement. Arlington’s facility could attract a global audience for tournaments.
Unlike the Rangers and Cowboys, there will be no home field advantage for teams — Williams said this will truly be an international arena.
“Our collaboration with the city of Arlington will give Texas and American esports a platform worthy of the vitality and impact it’s so swiftly developed.”
“I know the gaming community across the globe is going to fall in love with this stadium and with Arlington,” Williams said. “We’re ready for the biggest tournaments in the esports industry to call Arlington home.”
Oudthone said competitors will play on computers, consoles, and someday augmented and virtual reality.
“Our collaboration with the city of Arlington will give Texas and American esports a platform worthy of the vitality and impact it’s so swiftly developed,” Oudthone said.
Several major esports teams are relocating to the region, and have drawn major investments from some of DFW’s most notable people.
Dallas-Fort Worth pillars in esports talk about the industry’s rise — and how North Texas fits into the mix — at LaunchPad City.
What’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth gaming and esports news — leading off with some history to get you started