Arlington has found another 1-up in the esports industry by landing the next Esports Awards ceremony for the city's massive esports stadium.
The Esports Awards, a 3-year-old annual event that honors the work of teams, coaches, video game developers and many others in the esports industry, will hold its global ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Esports Stadium Arlington just a few days before the first anniversary of the stadium's opening.
"It was a conversation that came about after the stadium was built," says Jonathon Oudthone, the president of Esports Stadium Arlington. "The Esports Awards have been looking to move across the pond from its home in London. So naturally, we connected and thought our venue was perfect for what they needed to do."
The Esports Awards are an annual celebration of the growing esports industry with recognition for professional esports players and gaming streamers, game designers and studios and other people who work in the industry. The annual event started in 2016 in London and honors players and contributors to esports with nominations and awards voted on by a panel of industry experts and fans of the sport and games such as Valve's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Blizzard's Overwatch and Bluehole's PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
Michael Ashford, the managing director of the Esports Awards, says that the event had grown every year and needed a bigger space to accommodate the people and events surrounding it. They found Arlington through a friend and were attracted to moving the awards to the U.S. since "it counts for 50 percent of the audience share" for esports.
"We're big on experience and that's been something we've built over the last three years," Ashford says. "We're very big on being able to offer something that gives you that awestruck feeling when you walk into a room and sort of look at things. From the second we stepped off the plane at DFW and got to Arlington itself, we were very taken aback at how well things run and how the operation and everything worked and we were made to feel very welcome, which is something we like to do. We welcome some of the biggest esports stars in the world, some of the biggest teams in the world and all of the big publishers, and it's very important everyone feel at home."
Matt Wilson, the vice president of sports and events for the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, says the awards "felt like a really good, natural fit for us" that could introduce the stadium and the city to a global audience in person and on a digital stage.
"This introduces Arlington on more of a global scale than what has ever been done before," Wilson says. "People know the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Rangers play here but when you talk about esports, it's a global demographic. It appeals to so many different people. For it to be hosted in Arlington, Texas, it's really important for us to show this destination and all the great things we have to offer."
The choice also serves a great economic opportunity for the city and entities that can offer amenities during the event such as food, lodging and other entertainment services, Oudthone says.
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"From an economic perspective, it's going to be great for the city because they're filling hotel rooms now and making purchases within the city," Oudthone says. "It's also a great opportunity to bring some of the biggest influences in esports to Arlington and our facility. They have millions of followers, and that brings a lot of attention to the venue and the city as a whole."
The facility also allows the crew behind the awards ceremony access to broadcasting facilities and audio and visual equipment, including the arena's 85-foot stadium, as well as multiple rooms and facilities that can expand the event into a weekend, Ashford says.
"Everything's connected and built in to be plugged and play and that's something that works very well for us given that we're moving from another country," Ashford says. "We need to ensure we have the right digital infrastructure, the right hardware, the right assets. Everything's already there, which means not having to work with multiple suppliers and not having to go down that end.
"I think that the venue itself is a stunning venue and one of the most dedicated facilities I've been to, if not one of the best in general."