Management of Arlington esports stadium changes to Envy Gaming

North America’s largest esports facility will have new management this year after the Arlington City Council decided in December to hand over the keys to Envy Gaming, a North Texas-based esports organization with teams participating in the Call of Duty, Halo and Overwatch leagues.

These teams are expected to host their home games at Arlington Esports Stadium. The company’s professional Overwatch League team, the Dallas Fuel, sold the stadium last July during a game against the Houston Outlaws. Dallas Fuel won this matchup 3-0.

The stadium, built by the city and opened in 2018, is an often overlooked sporting offering in Arlington. But while the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers are perhaps better known than Dallas Fuel or Houston Outlaws, esports has one of the fastest growing fanbases in the world. Tournaments in professional leagues for Overwatch, League of Legends (the first tournament being the focus of Netflix Documentary 2019 Not a game) and StarCraft 2 are garnering worldwide attention.

Arlington has been looking to break into the world of professional game sports with the stadium since 2018. While there may be other larger venues that host esports events, Esports Stadium Arlington’s 100,000 square feet makes it the largest venue dedicated specifically to professional gaming in North America. It can be configured to house between 250 and 2,500 fans.

Envy hopes to bring more of the explosive growth seen in the esports market to Arlington this year when it hosts the January 21-23 season kick-off tournament for the Call of Duty Global Professional League, in which it sponsors the Team OpTic Texas. Tickets are on sale, ranging from $20 for a one-day ticket to $45 for a weekend pass.

Envy Gaming, which sponsors Dallas-Fort Worth-based professional esports teams in Overwatch, Call of Duty and Halo, has planned changes for the Esports Stadium Arlington venue. Max Faulkner [email protected]

Some big changes

The 100,000 square foot space at Esports Arlington Stadium will be used more often, Envy President and COO Geoff Moore told the Star-Telegram. This means some significant changes to how the stadium operates, such as the closure of the public play center which operated from 4 p.m. to midnight, and the end of other retail-based offerings like training camps and club leases. private rooms.

Those offers haven’t caught the attention of many in the area anyway, Moore said, and with more frequent events, tournaments and festivals, it will be harder to attract players as the schedule of the play center could be sporadic at times. This, coupled with the expansion of gambling cafes in the area, has made the center less attractive and less necessary.

But that doesn’t mean the stadium won’t be accessible to non-professional players. Moore said the festivals and special tournaments would cater to amateur gamers and weekend warriors, while giving the stadium a chance to show its love for certain games that don’t always have a big enough fan base. to organize specialized tournaments.

Some games, such as the Age of Empires real-time strategy franchise that Moore said he used to spend sleepless nights playing, don’t lend themselves easily to classic tournaments, but could be enjoyed by fans and gamers alike. alongside other offerings at festivals.

Other than that, Moore said most of the changes fans and players will see will be a result of growing reputation. The stadium’s naming rights, if they attract enough attention to attract brand interest, could lead to improvements to the facility, such as more large screens for spectators or a wider range of equipment.

Esports is growing, fast

While stereotypes and stigma still sometimes portray esports as a less than desirable arena, that is changing. Esports now has dedicated arenas like the one in Arlington. They are used in education. And a title can bring as much wealth and international notoriety as in almost any traditional sport.

In 2021, League of Legends World Champions Edward Gaming received $2.25 million in prize money. And this is far from being the biggest gain.

Last year, Fortnite World Cup champion Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, then 18 years old from Pennsylvania, won $20 million. He is now the chief game scout for Hollister, the apparel company billing itself as a SoCal fashion staple announced in 2021. It even designed a line for the company aimed at gamers.

In the circles on the right, names like Bugha, Edwards Gaming, Overwatch’s Shanghai Dragons and Joona ‘Serral’ Sotala, the first non-South Korean player to win a World Championship title in StarCraft 2, will inspire the same sentiment as names like Nolan Ryan, Emmitt Smith and Dirk Nowitzki in fans of these sports.

And the opportunity to be a professional player goes beyond tournaments and professional matches. Players can earn money by broadcasting their games and posting highlights of their sessions, generating interest from sponsors and selling advertisements. Some streaming platforms, like Twitch, even give fans the option to support their favorite players.

Hollister isn’t the only one who can benefit from sales of gaming-related apparel and merchandise. If a streamer has enough followers, they can create their own hoodies, t-shirts, hats, wristbands, and other merchandise to sell to his fans.

While many large and growing esports fans aren’t as often noticed as those of baseball, soccer or football, Moore said American interest in the game continues to grow. The international attention on esports is also huge, creating a global Moore community in relation to Formula 1 racing, a sport he used to promote in Austin.

This national growth and the existing international fandom is something that Arlington and Envy hope to foster, invite into the city and capitalize on.

This story was originally published January 14, 2022 5:30 a.m.

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James Hartley is a breaking news reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He is passionate about true stories, movies, baseball and good hot tea. You can connect with James on Twitter @ByJamesHartley or Instagram @JamesTakesPhotos. | Want reporters like James to help you stay informed about your community? You can help the Star-Telegram continue to deliver great local, business, political, sports and cultural news by purchasing a digital or print subscription today.

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