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This article was published on March 1, 2017

Las Vegas bets big on new esports arena attracting millennials

Las Vegas bets big on new esports arena attracting millennials Image by: Maxime FORT / Flickr
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Set to open Friday, a new esports arena could hold the cards for the future of Las Vegas. Or, so it hopes.

The 15,000 square foot venue features all the glitz and glamor of a professional arena: lights, large screens for spectators, even a tunnel for athletes — and I use the term loosely — to walk out to throngs of screaming fans. The city hopes the leap into esports could attract the oh-so-coveted millennial audience — 15- to 34-year-olds who have big spending power but aren’t necessarily interested in traditional gambling — to the city.

Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming told SFGate:

Las Vegas needs to consistently reinvent itself to remain relevant to the up-and-coming generation. We’ve always come up with ways to maintain our position as the entertainment capital of the world.

The push to attract millennials couldn’t have come at a better time. Ask any cab, Uber, or Lyft driver in the city and they’ll be the first to tell you Vegas is in the midst of a transition. Once known as the entertainment capital of the world, the moniker is still true, although less so these days. Instead, Las Vegas lives and breathes on the back of millions of convention goers each year, a (mostly) older demographic of professionals that, while lucrative, isn’t exactly adding to the city’s “hip” factor.

Esports used to be a bunch of gamers gathered at the local GameStop to compete in Madden (or the like) tournaments. From humble beginnings, the sport has grown into big business — even attracting big investments from ESPN, and several traditional pro sports teams. Last year, an estimated 323 million people tuned into esports coverage, a number expected to top 380 million in 2017.

Las Vegas is quick to recognize trends in entertainment, and now it’s seeking to cash in.

The arena kicks off its opening festivities on Friday with three day Halo World Championship, where $50,000 in prize pool money is up for grabs. Later in the month, EA is hosting a sanctioned Madden NFL 17 tournament.

When not in use for professional events, the venue will play host to a more casual crowd looking to take advantage of its 1Gbps internet connection — the product of more than 3 million miles of CAT cable.