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Oakland Will Be Home to New Arena For E-Gamers

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    Oakland is getting a new arena. But it's not for the Warriors - or any sports team. It's for e-gamers. Elyce Kirchner reports. (Published Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016)

    Oakland is getting a new arena. But it's not for the Warriors - or any sports team. It's for e-gamers.

    The 16,000-square-foot arena is dedicated to e-sports, and it's coming to Jack London Square, where a growing number of video game players and teams are expected to swarm.

    The e-sports arena is a well-known phenomenon in Asia, and its popularity is on the rise in the U.S.

    "People get scholarships to certain colleges," said Chris Murphy of Oakland. "It’s actually considered a sport."

    Also known as competitive gaming, the pastime is now coming to Oakland. But some wonder if a dedicated arena really is necessary.

    "Why would you go to an arena?" said Amy Saxton of Oakland. "A lot of those games you can just be at home."

    Esports Arena opened the nation’s first large-scale e-sports venue in October in Southern California, according to Paul Ward, CEO and co-founder of the company.

    "We find a lot of those people in Oakland and in the Bay Area," Ward said of the growing interest in the sport. "Just last night, for example, we had 300 competitors."

    Ward said the company just received a multimillion-dollar investment from five Chinese sports and video game companies.

    The Oakland venue will be located inside what is now the Amtrak parking lot, near Jack London Square, Ward said. He believes the arena will draw around 10,000 players and spectators every month.

    "We will be producing e-sports content and competition on a daily basis," he said.

    Even if it’s not the arena some hoped would come to Oakland, there is excitement already from younger generations.

    "All right! I will be there! said O'Rrien Millard of Oakland.

    Ward wouldn’t say how much the arena will cost but says it should open sometime by the end of the year or early 2017.

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