There's only one way to open the largest esports complex in the country, and the city of Arlington christened its new esports complex with a virtual competition on a massive screen.
The Arlington Esports Stadium hosted its official opening Monday with its first public tour and demonstration of the 100,000-square-foot,
The opening ceremonies included the stadium's first live match on the main stage's 85-foot-long LED screen with a round of the octane powered soccer game Rocket League as Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams and City Manager Trey Yelverton manned the red side and NGAGE Esports President Jonathon Oudthone and the stadium's executive producer Corey Dunn led the blue side. The red team won 4-2.
The first officially sanctioned esports event will be Saturday, with the Esports Championship Season 6 Finals competing on the first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
"The attendance and viewers for esports have been phenomenal and we wanted to be at the forefront of that with our entertainment complex," Williams says. "Our plan is to be bringing and hosting esports teams from throughout America."
The city, the architecture firm Populous and the esports marketing group NGAGE first announced plans to construct the $10 million complex back in March. The city still owns the facility and holds a special 10-year lease plan with the esports holding company Infinite Esports & Entertainment.
The facility was designed to allow for further expansion as the esports industry expands and the technology and games inevitably change over time, says Arlington Deputy City Manager Jim Parajon.
"We designed the facility so that over time as more opportunities arise, we can expand to incorporate them," he says.
The Arlington Esports Stadium isn't just available to professional teams. Collegiate teams, such as the University of Texas at Arlington Esports team that took home big wins like the top prize in last year's Heroes of the Dorm tournament, will be able to use the facility for practices and future tournaments.
Former UTA Esports team president and alumni adviser Christian Gross says the team served as a key adviser on the stadium project in its final stages.
"It's not just gaming events," Gross says. "There's also media and marketing opportunities for a wide range of events."
The new stadium also gives them and other area teams a centralized place for that all-important home-field advantage for future bouts and tournaments.
"This is our home stadium," Gross says. "I don't think we could ask for a better stadium."