The Future of Sports Is In North Texas

If the future of sports has one home, it’s right here in North Texas. A big brag, we know. But consider this: From high-tech advances to the hottest sports trends to startups on the edge of fitness science, it’s all kicking off in Dallas-Fort Worth. Here are a few reasons why.

From the rise of data and analytics to AI-enhanced training systems, technology is the name of the game for pro teams across North Texas—for both their players and their tech-driven venues.

That’s increasingly true for everyone from the Cowboys to the Rangers to the Dallas Stars, FC Dallas, Dallas Wings, and the XFL’s Dallas Renegades, right down to the GPS performance metrics devices worn by the Dallas Jackals rugby team. Startups have also launched in the region to offer everything from OxeFit’s “smart gyms” to POWERHANDZ high-performance training gloves to Monarc’s robotic quarterback.

But beyond high tech, the even bigger story here is the ever-widening range of sports making their home in North Texas. Here’s a look at some of the biggest newsmakers—and why you’ll be hearing about them for years to come. 

Jerry World Gears Up for the 2026 World Cup 

AT&T Stadium [Photo: AT&T]

The Dallas Cowboys top the list of the most valuable sports franchises on earth at $7 billion, according to Forbes. That’s reason enough to spiff up their Arlington home. But when the team recently announced plans to make $295 million in improvements to AT&T Stadium, one goal for the upgrades goes beyond football to the global game of—well, football (as in soccer). Jerry Jones and his family aim to make the Cowboys’ home a glittering marquee venue of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be played in 16 cities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The ultimate prize they seek: hosting the World Cup Final right here in DFW.

Major League Cricket

MLC’s first premier venue, to be located in Grand Prairie, is slated for completion in March 2023. The venue will bid to host games at the World Cup in 2024, according to the MLC. [Rendering: HKS/MLC]

Sticky wickets are coming to DFW. So are cartwheels, cherries, diamond ducks, golden ducks, and more. Get ready to learn these terms and more when Major League Cricket launches in DFW this July. Local investors Anurag Jain and Ross Perot Jr. joined a $44 million funding round last May to build out the league’s infrastructure, with six teams representing Dallas, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. MLC will adopt the sport’s shortened Twenty20 format. Dallas-based HKS is designing a “world-class” stadium with major event capacity and seating expandable to 20,000 in Grand Prairie at the site of the former Texas AirHogs ballpark.  It will also be the home of USA Cricket, the governing body for the sport in the U.S., and will host international tournaments as well.

America’s ‘Golf Mecca’

Yep, that’s a sand trap inside the new PGA Frisco headquarters. [Photo: PGA of America]

The PGA of America moved its HQ from Florida to Frisco, debuting its $33.5 million, high-tech new home last August as part of a planned $500 million-plus mixed-use development that’s been dubbed “the Silicon Valley of golf.” The new PGA headquarters has lots of company in North Texas. Dallas-based Invited is the world’s largest owner and operator of golf and country clubs and is the majority owner of the BigShots Golf entertainment venues. Also headquartered in Dallas: tech-driven Topgolf, Drive Shack, and Puttery, as well as Arcis Golf, the second-largest owner of private, resort, and daily-fee golf clubs in the U.S. No wonder Invited CEO David Pillsbury calls Dallas “a golf Mecca.” 

Pickleball’s Hot in North Texas

Pro pickleball players Jessie Irvine and Jay Devilliers. [Photo: Professional Pickleball Association/PR Newswire]

Millions have fallen head over paddle for pickleball, and Dallas billionaires have gotten in the game. A year ago, Tom Dundon, chairman and managing partner of Dallas’ Dundon Capital Partners and owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, acquired majority ownership of the Professional Pickleball Association, e-commerce platform Pickleball Central, and In November, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was named the first team owner of the PPA’s six-team VIBE Pickleball League, slated to launch in 2023. “I couldn’t pass up the chance to invest in the fastest-growing game in the country,” Cuban said at the time. Soon after, Major League Pickleball and the VIBE Pickleball League announced a strategic merger to unify the sport under the Major League Pickleball brand.

Beating the World in Esports

OpTic Gaming’s team The Dallas Fuel after winning the Overwatch League Grand Finals on Nov 4 2022 [Photo: Joe Brady]

In November, Frisco-based OpTic Gaming saw its esports team The Dallas Fuel win the 2022 Overwatch League world championship in front of thousands of fans at California’s Anaheim Convention Center. “We had a chance to make history today and got the job done,” OpTic owner and Chief Gaming Officer Mike Rufail said at the time. Rufail’s company was formerly known as Envy Gaming before its merger with OpTic in 2021. In June, Envy retired its branding and adopted the OpTic name. OpTic Gaming also operates the 100,000-square-foot Esports Stadium Arlington, which just hosted the SMITE World Championship January 13-15 with eight esports teams competing for $415,000 in prizes. 

Women’s Pro Volleyball Spikes Into DFW

The Pro Volleyball Federation will take the court in February 2024. [Photo: PVF]

It’s not just for the Olympics anymore. The Pro Volleyball Federation, an indoor women’s volleyball league based locally out of Frisco as well as Columbus, Ohio, announced its launch last November. The league will feature 8 to 10 initial teams playing in “volleyball hotbeds” across the U.S. Its two co-founders are Stephen Evans, president of The Remedy, a sports and entertainment marketing agency based in Dallas, and Dave Whinham, president and CEO of Columbus-based The TEAM Management. Former college player Jen Spicher, the league’s CEO, calls the PVF “a fantastic new opportunity for these awesome athletes.”  But the dinks, spikes, and digs are still a year away from happening: The league takes the court in February 2024. 

Teqball Bounces In

The first-ever Dallas Challenger Cup was held in August 2021. [US National Teqball Federation]

Move over Pickleball. Enthusiasts of Teqball say it’s the hottest game in town. A cross between soccer and ping-pong, teqball (pronounced tek-ball) is played on a curved table with “Teqers” kicking, kneeing, and heading a soccer ball back and forth. Fort Worth set up teq tables for public use at two parks last summer, a year after Big D hosted the Dallas Challenger Cup for teqball-playing men and women. Teqball, which is both a brand and a sport, is growing fast. The quirky sport has spread through the U.S. via gorilla marketing and got its first USA programming deal with ESPN in 2022. Now Teqball USA CEO Ajay Nwosu is putting the sport on a path to Olympic inclusion.

Quincy Preston contributed to this report.

A version of this story was originally published in Dallas Innovates 2023.

Read Dallas Innovates 2023 online

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