Appealing to millennials, Las Vegas gets e-sports arena

February 25, 2017 by Regina Garcia Cano
n this Feb. 18, 2017, photo, Teams compete against each other playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive during the Dreamhack Masters e-sports tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. A permanent 15,000 square-foot e-sports facility is scheduled to open in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The arena has all the features that a professional sports venue needs: stands, warm-up areas for teams, massive screens for spectators and a broadcast platform for commentators. But what distinguishes this new Las Vegas arena is its dozens of video game consoles.

The 15,000-square-foot e-sports venue slated to open Friday will host competitive video game tournaments. It's part of a trend that the casino industry hopes will attract the millennial crowd, the 15- to 34-year-olds who are becoming majority spenders in today's economy but aren't necessarily interested in traditional gambling.

"Las Vegas needs to consistently reinvent itself to remain relevant to the up-and-coming generation," said Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming and a member of the board of directors of Millennial Esports, the company behind the arena. "We've always come up with ways to maintain our position as the entertainment capital of the world."

Athletes participating in a tournament at the arena will emerge from a tunnel surrounded by roaring crowds in the stands. They will then go on a podium and sit at stations equipped with game consoles, monitors and other equipment.

The venue will open its doors March 3 with a three-day, $50,000-prize-pool Halo World Championship qualifier and host an EA Sports-sanctioned Madden 17 NFL tournament later in March.

In this Feb. 17, 2017, photo, Ninjas in Pyjamas, a team from Sweden, competes during the Dreamhack Masters e-sports tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. A permanent 15,000 square-foot e-sports facility is scheduled to open in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The arena is within walking distance of downtown hotel-casinos. It will host 200 people in stadium-style seating overlooking the main stage, but hundreds more can be accommodated in another hall outfitted with screens showing the live competition. The entire facility was built in an area that once housed movie theaters and a nightclub.

More than 3 miles of CAT cable were needed to wire the facility. Its dozens of ports offer internet speeds of one-gigabit. When no tournaments are in progress, the facility will be open to casual gamers and others interested in using the high-speed internet.

Las Vegas casinos have invested in numerous non-gaming amenities to attract the elusive millennials, from rooms with bunk beds for the young travelers who don't want to spend a minute apart to a lounge that features pool, foosball and air hockey. The Downtown Grand, a short walk from the new arena, has an e-sports lounge, where tournament competitors, casual gamers and fans play and socialize.

In this Feb. 18, 2017, photo, fans watch as teams compete against each other playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive during the Dreamhack Masters e-sports tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. A permanent 15,000 square-foot e-sports facility is scheduled to open in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
"The younger people don't get enamored by the glitz and the glitter of something; it's all about authenticity for them," said Alex Igelman, CEO of Millennial Esports.

Vegas is betting on e-sports as its popularity has evolved from a niche genre of gaming to a lucrative sport thanks to new technologies, more reliable internet speeds and a generation of gamers that has grown up watching competitive matches on YouTube and other sites. Nevada sportsbooks have already taken wagers on matches.

The sport now draws tens of millions of spectators to online platforms and real-world venues, including New York City's Madison Square Garden, the Los Angeles' Staples Center and Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena, which earlier this month saw 16 of the world's best CS:GO teams compete. Estimates show 323 million people watched e-sports in 2016. The global audience is expected to grow to 385 million this year.

"E-sports no longer needs to be legitimized; it's a huge sport already," said Mike Sepso, co-founder of Major League Gaming. "There are e-sports fans everywhere in this country."

In this Feb. 18, 2017, photo, Christopher Alesund, of Sweden, plays Counter-Strike: Global Offensive during the Dreamhack Masters e-sports tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. A permanent 15,000 square-foot e-sports facility is scheduled to open in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Feb. 9, 2017, photo, James Robbins works on an e-sports arena by Millennial Esports in Las Vegas. The permanent 15,000 square-foot e-sports facility is scheduled to open in downtown Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
In this Feb. 17, 2017, photo, Ninjas in Pyjamas, a team from Sweden, celebrates after winning a match during the Dreamhack Masters e-sports tournament at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. A permanent 15,000 square-foot e-sports facility is scheduled to open in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Explore further: Yahoo launches eSports arena to win video game fans

Related Stories

YouTube Gaming launches as e-sports arena

August 26, 2015

YouTube on Wednesday strode into an arena dominated by Amazon-owned Twitch, with the launch of a service tailored for the hot trend of video game play as a spectator sport.

Activision Blizzard wants eSports to be big league

November 4, 2016

Activision Blizzard is creating an eSports league of its own with competitive play of team-based shooter game "Overwatch," and a goal of building professional stars—possibly with big-league payouts.

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.