After three years of development, the first dedicated eSports Arena from the startup called eSports Arena is open for business. The grand opening for the Orange County location is Oct. 2, which also marks the first of many tournaments for the company across Dota 2, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends, Call of Duty, and other games.
The company is charging gamers a $12.99 monthly membership to get access to the facility, which features 120 PCs and 64 game consoles. When there aren t tournaments or events being held, anyone can play games. eSports Arena is building a network of arenas across the U.S. with three facilities already in the works. Paul Ward, founder and CEO of eSports Arena, details the company s national plans in this exclusive interview.
When is the launch and how are you celebrating
eSports Arena is launching Oct. 2-4 with a $25,000 Hearthstone invitational featuring 14 pros and two qualifiers. It’s going to be a great event for the North American Hearthstone community and we have partnered with game developer and pro player Brian Kibler.
What type of funding have you received for the first arenas
We’ve bootstrapped the past few years and taken very little investment. This is one reason it has taken so long (about three years), but in the end we have complete control over the future of our arenas. Finding a suitable space for our first arena was also a challenge, but we were able to find a building owner that believed in the concept and wasn’t only looking at our bank account — which is rare.
Can you run through the specs of the arena
Our first Arena located in Orange County California is a completely renovated 15,000 square foot facility. We have a 1,100 square foot stage, a 2,300 square foot mezzanine, and a 11,000 square foot main floor. The building is purpose built for live broadcasts and events, meaning we have 100 percent modular equipment and extensive cabling throughout the space. Anyone can come in and plug in there broadcast equipment almost anywhere and be ready to go. On any given day we have 120 PC’s provided by CyberPower PC and 64 consoles. All of that equipment can be quickly and easily replaced with 1,000 auditorium seats. So we can go from open bracket tournament to final stage match like no other venue. We have an unbelievable amount of power and Internet with redundancies. The facility is the ideal venue for any broadcast event especially eSports.
What role will this arena play for any established leagues or games
We’re excited at the prospect of working with existing leagues and event organizers. We’re a fraction of the overall cost of traditional venues and have a much more streamlined approach to booking and planning events/leagues. We’re also excited about the live stream opportunities that individual streamers have now to interact with their fans and create truly unique content on a regular basis.
What are your plans on hosting or launching your own eSports tournaments/leagues
We have a 2015 calendar full of events across titles. We’re producing some of these events and other organizations are producing there own events in our space. Starting in October we’ll be producing weekly LAN leagues across titles like League of Legends, Hearthstone, Dota 2, and Counter Strike. We’re bringing in top commentators and professionals to be a part of these leagues. There needs to be more emphasis on the up-and-coming players and the community level competition and we are the platform for this growth. We’re not trying to replace the at-home gaming experience, nor are we trying to be the Staples Center, but we think there is a lot of room in between, which is where we come in.
What other cities are you targeting for arenas and are there any specific openings planned
We’ll be in San Francisco and Austin soon. I can’t give dates because there are just too many variables.
Will all arenas be identical
The Arenas will very much be products of their respective markets. The San Francisco real estate market is far different than Austin, Texas, so we have to approach them differently. The core of the Arenas will remain constant though: modular turn-key broadcast venues focused on eSports.
How will you use this network of arenas once they’re all functional
We’re creating the ability to host singular national events across multiple markets. This gives the competitor, fan, and organizer the ability to push eSports passed the occasional pop up bubble events and into the entertainment juggernaut it should be. Creating regional affinity is a powerful element in traditional sports and it will be for eSports soon.
How are you selecting cities
We want to be where the eSports demographic is and where other tech companies, specifically game developers, are. The synergy with game developers is one thing we’re really excited about. With these venues, companies big and small have endless opportunities to take their game to the next level with eSports. Everyone wants to be the next Riot Games with their massive eSports success, we just made it much easier.
Is this a national focus or are there international plans
We have a national focus at the moment. We’re very open to international plans and collaborations. The sky is the limit.