The Esports Arena is an indoor arena that hosts Esports viewing events, in Santa Ana, California, as well as the name of several affiliated arenas around the world. The original building, specifically intended to host esports tournaments and events, was founded in 2015 and holds a capacity of 1,400. For a monthly membership fee, amateur gamers are able to practice and "mingle" at the location. More Esports Arena venues have since been established worldwide, partially funded by the Chinese sports and video game company partnership Allied ESports.
Former military intelligence officer Paul Ward started thinking about starting a major video game venue in 2010. He and his childhood friend Tyler Endres had fond memories of attending LAN parties and small-scale video game competitions while growing up, but were disappointed by the existing venues for such events as adults. The Esports Arena was founded by Ward and Endres as a location where amateur players can practice and mingle. The two initially had trouble finding a venue for their idea, though their pitch was positively received by Santa Ana building owner Jack Jakosky, who, despite not playing video games himself, saw potential in the idea. In order to afford a 10-year lease on the building, Ward and Erdes received a Small Business Administration loan, checks from friends and family, and an anonymous large investment.
The building opened on October 3, 2015 to host a Hearthstone tournament with a $20,000 USD prize pool. The 15,000 square-feet venue is housed in an old renovated brick building in downtown Santa Ana and holds slightly under 1,000 people. Though major leagues are hosted in the Esports Arena, the building is primarily used as a "gym", offering memberships and passes to amateur gamers. Technology companies Corsair Components, Eizo and CyberPowerPC sponsored the gaming equipment, which included 130 computer stations and 64 Xbox consoles when the building was opened.
As it was opened, Ward and Endres planned to livestream daily amateur matches. Commentators and award ceremonies of such events would then create a certain atmosphere. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Endres stated that the "we're selling an experience, not Internet time."
In August 2016, Ward and Erdes received a multimillion-dollar investment from five Chinese sports and video game companies – together known as Allied eSports – in order open a second Esports Arena on Jack London Square in Oakland. The deal marked the beginning of a network of arenas partially funded by Allied ESports. The 16,000 square-feet location in Oakland was scheduled to open before the end of 2016.
A 30,000-square-meter Esports Arena was established in the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas in 2018, funded by Allied ESports and MGM Resorts International. Jud Hannigan of Allied ESports described Esports Arena Las Vegas as the esports equivalent of the Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, or Wembley. Chris Glove, co-director of the Nevada Esports Alliance, stated that the Las Vegas Esports Arena "will start to give some shape to the esports identity of Las Vegas." ESports Arena Las Vegas opened on March 22, 2018.
The Esports Arena in Santa Ana has hosted various major tournaments, including the finals of the 2015 Vainglory season and SoCal Regionals 2016. The Esports Arena hosted the preliminary rounds of the 2016 Capcom Cup.
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