If you told someone 5 years ago that a major Las Vegas resort would replace its nightclub with anything, that person would think you were nuts. In 2014 alone, XS nightclub at the Encore brought in $105 million in revenue.
If you told that same person that a nightclub would be replaced by an esports arena, the laughter wouldn't end for quite a while. Except, that's what has happened with the Luxor debuting a brand new Esports Arena Las Vegas on March 22, which will be a 30,000 square-foot, multilevel entertainment venue where a nightclub sat before.
I recently spoke with Allied Esports International CEO Jud Hannigan to get a better sense of how he and his company have been put in a position to seriously change the esports spectator experience by making a big splash in Las Vegas.
Why is Las Vegas and in particular Luxor the right spot for an esports arena?
Hannigan: There's no other city in the world that generates excitement, enthusiasm and anticipation across continents and cultures quite like Las Vegas. We will leverage those emotions with Esports Arena Las Vegas as our championship destination in the Allied Esports Property Network driving interest and participation in our events at other arenas around the world in North America, Europe and China.
The Luxor is one of the most iconic and recognizable buildings in the world and while the location in the hotel is perfect for what we set out to create from an esports and content production standpoint, having it all take place beneath the beam that lights up the Las Vegas skies every night only adds to the power and storylines of what we are creating.
Who is the esports arena truly going to be catering to?
Hannigan: Esports Arena offers programming each week that caters to the many communities of esports players and fans at all of our properties. We believe Esports Arena Las Vegas will be a "must-see" for our core customer but Las Vegas provides us the opportunity to appeal to a much broader audience by catering to the curious who might be looking for a welcoming entry point into gaming and esports.
How difficult was it to convince executives that the ROI on an esports arena should be better than a nightclub on The Strip?
Hannigan: Las Vegas has been able to maintain its moniker as the entertainment capital of the world for so long because of its willingness to constantly be reinventing itself to provide the most cutting edge offering imaginable. We are fortunate to be aligning with MGM Resorts International who are the leaders in that effort and we are proud to be a part of the next evolution of entertainment in Las Vegas.
What events are currently planned for the forthcoming arena?
Hannigan: We have a robust schedule of weekday programming targeting the a wide variety of game communities. Weekends will offer larger scale events with a few highlights including the debut of a new global circuit called Smash Masters League featuring fighting game Super Smash Bros during opening weekend, various games from the Battle Royale genre and the NHL '18 Final on June 19 with more announcements following opening weekend.