Dallas Fuel Homestand at Esports Stadium Arlington in July Will Have Audience – The Esports Observer

Dallas Fuel Homestand at Esports Stadium Arlington in July Will Have Audience – The Esports Observer

The Dallas Fuel will host fans next month for their Overwatch League matchup versus the Houston Outlaws, the first time that fans have been allowed to attend an Activision Blizzard Esports game in North America since the pandemic began.

On Friday, July 9, the 2,500-seat Esports Stadium Arlington will operate at 50% capacity for the Week 13 tie between the state of Texas’ two OWL franchises. All tickets will be general admission and cost $15, with sale starting this Wednesday. Envy Gaming’s EnvyUS membership club members will get early access to buying tickets for 24 hours.

The Fuel players will be on stage at ESA, but in a twist, the rival Outlaws will not be there in person due to travel and timing issues as they have another game the day before versus the Boston Uprising. Fans in attendance will be asked to wear masks.

Envy Gaming worked with Activision Blizzard to helped set up the return of fans, and the Dallas-based esports organization is among those that have been pushing to get back to live events. Like most sports leagues, OWL and its sister property Call of Duty League stopped hosting fans in early 2020 when the pandemic started. Only OWL teams in China have hosted fans since.

Envy Gaming President & COO Geoff Moore told SBJ: “We’re excited about it and are kind of taking a baby step to getting back to the events we really want to host where both teams are there live and/or there are multiple set of teams there. We’d like to get back to that sooner versus later.”

Moore said that the Outlaws wanted to travel for the event but that given the potential travel/timing issues with their game the day before, and the fact that this was the first event in North America with fans post-pandemic, “in the final analysis we felt it was best to take an intermittent step” where only one team is on site.

But after this initial event, Moore feels they can get back to having fans and both teams on site for upcoming games “pretty quickly.”

The return of fans is important in that esports in North America were moving more toward holding big, in-real-life events with fans before the pandemic hit. On top of halting teams’ ability to draw revenue from hosting in-person events, it also stripped the city-based leagues like OWL and CDL of one of the tools they originally envisioned to grow their fanbases and engagement.

Moore opined on that: “Let’s just take the Fuel for example. We have a team that’s really good, really fun, fans have really enjoyed watching them play, but they haven’t had a platform to communicate and share that. The (Dallas) Empire won a world championship (in CDL), and we couldn’t do it in front of fans. We didn’t get a chance to share that experience with fans in a live environment, and that’s a huge thing that’s missing from the equation right now. The energy and social benefit of being able to share this with people that care about it as much as you do.”

Before the pandemic hit, many teams in the ABE-owned leagues were not yet profitable and events sometimes if not often lost money. But Moore, the longtime former executive of the NHL’s Dallas Stars franchise, is taking the long-term view and points to how the Stars had to slowly build up their fanbase in the Dallas area before they took off.

“It could be good business, but what I would say is, ‘You have to grow it into a good business,’” Moore said. “You have to grow this into an experience that is more frequent and a better experience over time because that’s how you bring more new people to your game and organization and turn them into being fans.”

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