The home of the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers is making a risky bet on the fast-growing world of competitive video games.
Arlington, Texas, is gambling $10 million of taxpayer money on what it calls the country’s biggest electronic-sports venue. The city of 396,000, which has sunk about $1 billion into football and baseball stadiums, is wagering that gamers will leave their homes, where they can follow Overwatch or Fortnite matches on live-streaming apps, to witness contestants in tricked-out easy chairs compete on big screens.
The lure is esport’s growth. Worldwide revenue from sponsorships, merchandise and tickets, game-publisher fees, media rights and advertising is expected to reach $906 million this year, according to Amsterdam-based Newzoo. For Arlington, that may be enough to overcome the unsavory underbelly of the subculture. This includes the mid-2010s scandal known as Gamergate, a social-media frenzy of male gamers who ganged up to harass and threaten female journalists and gamers and the Aug. 26 shooting deaths of three men at a Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.