ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The city of Arlington is planning to build another major sports stadium.
The teams won’t be on a field though, but a stage. And the action, will be on a screen.
Wednesday, the city announced plans to invest $10 million into building the largest stadium in the country, for esports. The deal with ESports Venues, LLC would turn 100,000 square feet of space at the Arlington Convention Center, into the country’s largest stadium for competitive gaming. If approved by the city council, the venue could open by the fall.
The events, which pit professional teams and players against each other in games like Overwatch and Dota 2, draw millions of viewers around the world in live broadcasts online. They also play in front of local crowds. The Arlington venue could hold as many as 1,000 spectators.
“In the online world there’s hundreds of millions of people who follow these games and these teams and now the players,” said Ken Hersh.
The part owner of the Texas Rangers, also invested millions of dollars last year through Hersh Interactive Group, in Team EnVyUs, an esports franchise. It plays as the Dallas Fuel while competing with the game Overwatch, a first-person shooter.
“The more I peeled away what I learned, the more it is identical,” Hersh said, when asked if he saw traditional sports as different than esports.
The decision to move Arlington in the direction of esports came together quickly over the last several months according to Mayor Jeff Williams.
In addition to Hersh’s investment, the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau commissioned graduate students at New York University to identify a sporting event that would bring the city national recognition. The team found esports offered a better opportunity for growth than traditional events.
The city has already has some success in esports, with a club team from the University of Texas Arlington winning a national championship in an event last year.
“Finally getting people to realize that hey, this is a massive opportunity and we can have the opportunity, we just need to take it, need to go for it,” said Tazim Sobhan, a member of the club who was at the convention center for the announcement Wednesday.
In a release, the city said the proposed agreement for the stadium includes a 10-year lease for the space, with an option for a 10-year renewal. Renovation costs would be repaid through lease payments, revenue from events and stadium naming rights.