A Stadium For Major League Gaming?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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A Stadium For Major League Gaming?

E-sports has come a long way since its earliest days, and it's easy to see how that's the case. We've gone from the earliest days to offering millionaire players, a World Series of sorts, gambling, even scandal in the teams themselves. Now, we've got what may be one of the last things separating Major League Gaming from an actual sport: a stadium.

More specifically, Major League Gaming recently announced that it was picking up a building near the Easton Town Center mall just outside of the city of Columbus, Ohio to open up the MLG.tv Arena. The building will offer up a 14,000 square foot venue for gaming, complete with bleacher seating, and MLG plans to inaugurate the stadium with no less than October's “Call of Duty: Ghosts” Pro League playoffs with a total prize purse of $75,000.

Following the incredible success of The International, the Dota 2 championships which offered up an $11 million prize package and a total viewership of better than 20 million, as well as the “League of Legends” championships that brought in 32 million back in 2013, it's become incredibly clear that e-sports are gaining ground not only with viewers but with advertisers as well. Recently, Amazon bought Twitch—a streaming channel for video game footage—for fully $970 million at last report, a development that shows there's plenty of room here for gaming video to make a big splash.

While the market for gaming video certainly plays a part in all this, there's also the issue of location to consider. This is actually a pretty good location for game buffs; the Easton Town Center mall contains not only an AMC theater chain that offers dining options—a dine-in theater, if you can believe that—but there's an Asian grill, a sushi place, and plenty more besides. That's the kind of infrastructure that's likely to attract the gamer, and the recent addition of a Kitchen Den Bar location—sometimes known by its initials, KDB—should further help to draw the gaming crowd to Columbus.

This is a concept that looks like it should work well. With the MLG.tv Arena drawing gamers wanting to watch live gaming in action and a solid infrastructure nearby for gamers looking to play a few instead of just watch, Columbus might well turn into the gaming capital of the midwest, a development that would likely prove valuable in terms of providing new tax dollars and similar revenues into Columbus' coffers, as well as driving new jobs and other development. What's particularly exciting here, meanwhile, is the idea of all the possibilities being engendered by video gaming. Are we looking at a moment in time where video gaming drives tourism dollars? Will gamers start chartering buses to head to Columbus the way sports fans might charter a bus to the Super Bowl? It's entirely possible; the comparative rarity of arcades these days likely weighs on a lot of gamers, particularly those who remember what it was like to step into an arcade and step up to a competitor, right in the same room, as opposed to over intervening bandwidth.

Only time will tell, of course, just how well this works out, but it may not be too much longer before video gaming starts to become a tourism draw on par with gambling or monuments. Gamers should be watching Columbus closely; it's got some great potential to it.

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