ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The largest venue dedicated to esports in North America opened its doors this weekend in Arlington, drawing a sold-out crowd at its augural event.
The city’s convention center transformed into Esports Stadium Arlington, falling right into place with AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park.
Professional gamers, coaches, gaming PCs and more lit up the stage in front of a sold-out audience on Saturday.
“Oh man, it’s majestic. It might as well be the ninth wonder of the world when you come to an event like this,” said fan Chris Lane.
The inaugural event was the esports championship series semifinals of the popular first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The league is structured like the business of traditional sports. There are 20 teams across North America and Europe, and each team has an owner, paid players and sponsorships.
The ever-growing wonder of esports was not only popular at the stadium, but also to tens of thousands streaming the event live online.
“I’m super pumped. I’m just glad we’ve opened the doors. We’re getting people funneled in,” said Jonathon Oudthone, founder and president of NGAGE.
Oudthone helped set up the 10-year lease with Arlington for the stadium.
“My dream is to pack this house out every weekend, to expand and grow this venue to a 20 to 60,000 seating venue one day, so we can compete with the NFLs, the MLBs of the world,” said Oudthone.
The prize money on the line for this event? $750,000.
The players do not take the game lightly, according to one expert in competitive gaming.
“A lot of these teams have mental coaches. They have nutritionists. They have people that prepare them to come to this competition and perform at their best,” said Michele Attisani, co-founder of FACEIT.
In addition to the city being able to host events, recreational gamers can come and play at the Gamer Gallery outside of the arena seven days a week.
“What it is is it brings me community. And some of those that don’t have too much to hold onto, I have this family that I can always come to and count on to log in and ready to go, every night night for a week. Anytime, anywhere,” said Lane.