ARLINGTON -- Wednesday was a big day for the DFW sports scene as plans were revealed for the upcoming NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium and a new Esports arena in Arlington.
Starting with the NFL Draft, this will be the first time the event is held in an NFL stadium and the league is taking advantage of the extra space. Among the changes from years past is an "inner circle" area where teams can invite 50 of their fans to sit together, cheer the draft picks, and possibly interact with them afterward. Rival fans will be seated next to each other to boost the competitive spirit in the building, but hopefully Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, and Redskins fans can keep it peaceful!
However the draft is much more than just teams selecting players, with more than 30 attractions involved.
"There's so much to do," said NFL Senior Vice President of Events Peter O'Reilly. "You can come down and spend hours and hours experiencing the fan activities, the food, the music, those elements, putting aside sitting in your seat and watching the draft."
But you will want to watch the draft when the Eagles make their picks, after Cowboys legend Drew Pearson riled up the crowd in Philadelphia last year by boasting about Dallas' five Super Bowl trophies.
"Whoever they bring, he will be met with a chorus of boos more so than the chorus of boos I was met with," says Pearson. He did compliment Philly's hosting job, adding, "We've really got to work to top that. But with the plans we have in the works, we will."
Check out the renderings of what the event will look like. It takes place April 26-28 and it's free, however, you do need to register for (and win) a ticket lottery to get a seat in the theater area.
Meanwhile, Arlington's stadium complex will be growing this fall with the announcement that the Arlington Convention Center will undergo a $10 million makeover to become just the third arena in the United States dedicated to competitive video gaming known as Esports.
"New York University, the Sports Management college, [did] a study for us to look at, 'What should we be going to next?'" said City of Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, "And they targeted Esports, [saying] that would be ideal."
While some still scoff at the notion of "professional video game players," the reality is Esports is on the verge of becoming a billion-dollar business. Some gamers are making six-figure salaries. Corporations are eager to get involved via sponsorship to reach the gaming demographic. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban have each invested in the industry. ESPN airs competitions.
Now, Arlington will be a big part of the frenzy as the 100,000 square-foot space will be larger than the two competing venues in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
"We'll be able to feed local competitions as well as international competitions," says Jonathon Oudthone, the president of NGAGE Esports which will manage the building. "The goal is to have some of the largest and well-known Esports teams on the planet competing in this stadium."
The stadium is expected to open in September. Here's are the City of Arlington's renderings of what it will look like: