Arlington hopes to cash in on the growing world of esports by opening the nation's largest gaming venue, located in the city's sports hub. The new $10 million Esports Stadium Arlington was constructed inside the existing Arlington Convention Center on Ballpark Way.
The esports industry is valued at $600 million and is expected to grow to $1.5 billion by 2020.
The stadium will host its first international competition with its grand opening this weekend. The 100,000-square-foot venue can hold anywhere from 250 to 2,500 people. It has several gaming stations and an 85-foot LED wall for fans to watch the action live.
Some of the best esports players in the world will be competing for $750,000 in prize money, giving some idea of just how big the esports industry is becoming. The competition is fierce and the players are true pros.
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"They receive a salary, they have sponsors, they have coaches, they have nutritionists," said Michele Attisani, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer for FACEIT, the company behind the Esports Championship Series.
This weekend's international event is like the Superbowl of the first-person sharp shooter game Counter Strike, and Esports Stadium Arlington is now the biggest place to play in the U.S.
"It's something you can't ignore and with where culture and entertainment is heading, this is the future of that," said Jonathon Oudthone, President of NGAGE Esports & Esports Venues, LLC.
Because of its proximity to DFW International Airport, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams called it the most accessible esports venue in the world.
"This new venue provides us with the opportunity to create jobs, and I can't wait to see the positive impact these esports events will have on tourism," he said.
In addition to tournaments, it will be open to the public daily with a gamer gallery for anyone to sit down and play.
UT Arlington's esports team is competing against LSU at the venue on Sunday. The players say there's a shift happening, with many younger kids more interested and inspired by gaming, than traditional sports.
"Some people are just born to play in sports and athletics but esports you can train, you can get better," said Evan Anderson, of the UT Arlington Esports Club.
Instead of trying to "Be Like Mike," you can be like Magisk, a player for the team to beat this weekend, Astralis, out of Denmark.
"It's a lot more than people realize," Magisk said. "We train a lot, we use it as a fulltime job."
They compete all over the world and say Arlington's new dedicated arena is a good sign for the industry.
"It's a great step in the right direction and it's always good to see that people actually notice how big esports is," said Magisk (Twitter: @MagiskCS).
It's a growing movement that's putting North Texas at the center of the game.