Pizza Hut Lands the First-Ever Virtual Esports Stadium Rights Deal

Plano-headquartered Pizza Hut is this year serving as an official sponsor of EA and the NFL's Madden NFL 20 Championship Series. As part of the deal, the virtual in-game stadium experience will be referred to as “Pizza Hut Stadium.”

From startups moving into the industry to nationally integrated partnerships to giant, first-of-their-kind facilities, esports has continually made major wave in North Texas. Hosted inside the region are numerous professional teams, gaming hubs, and major events. ESPN has even said Dallas is “second only to Los Angeles as the country’s capital of esports.”

It’s an industry that’s projected to reach $1.65 billion in market revenue by 2021, and could become a UIL-sanctioned activity.

And the global restaurant giants are starting to catch on to the buzz.

Pizza Hut gets its own virtual in-game stadium

Traditionally, pizza and sports go hand-in-hand (but, like, what doesn’t pizza go with?). For the first time though, a pizza company is making its esports debut.

Electronic Arts (EA) and the National Football League (NFL) last week announced its Madden NFL 20 Championship Series (MCS), a yearly competition held just before the NFL season kicks off. New this year is a partnership with Plano-based Pizza Hut, which is serving as an official MCS sponsor—Pizza Hut is also the ‘Official Pizza Sponsor’ of the NFL—along with Mars Inc.’s SNICKERS.

The Madden NFL 20 Classic portion of the series will take place in Esports Stadium Arlington. But, as part of the deal, the in-game stadium experience will be referred to as the “Pizza Hut Stadium.”

Pizza Hut Stadium, the “new home of competitive Madden NFL,” marks the first time a brand has ever been able to name a virtual football stadium.

“Pizza Hut has always been a trailblazer in the gaming space, from the days of tabletop Pac-Man in our restaurants, to now, becoming the first-ever brand to have an official virtual stadium rights deal in esports,” Marianne Radley, chief brand officer at Pizza Hut, said in a statement.

With the partnership, Radley also said Pizza Hut will be creating 360 fan engagement that connects fans to their favorite sports.

This year will garner the largest competitor pool in the history of MCS, which coincidentally coincides with one of the venues—the newly opened Esports Stadium Arlington. Well-known as the “largest gaming and esports events facility in North America,” the 100,000-square-foot stadium opened back in November in Arlington’s entertainment district.

Esports events spread throughout DFW

In other food-retailers-gone-gaming news, N3rd Street Gamers (NSG) and The Kellogg Company recently announced a partnership to take on esports.

Amateur esports network NSG and Kellogg’s will host National Championship Series Academy events in Dallas, along with Kansas City, Nashville, Spokane and Colorado Springs. The Academy allows amateur gamers to learn, train, and test their skill-sets.

Also, Kellogg’s will host Gaming and Snacking watch parties for The Overwatch League Grand Finals on Sept. 29 in Walmart stores across the U.S., including Dallas.

In March, Philadelphia-headquartered NSG entered into a strategic partnership with Esports Stadium Arlington. That deal allowed NSG’s National Championship Series to be integrated into Esports Stadium Arlington’s Strike League, per Esports Insider.

“NSG strongly believes in creating new and bolstering existing opportunities for players of all skill levels to compete in esports,” Ryan Barr, COO of N3rd Street Gamers, said in a statement at the time. “Working with Esports Stadium and their talented team to bring ESA’s Strike League into the National Championship Series will offer new options for competitors both regionally and nationally.”

This article was updated on Wednesday, July 31.

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