UST Joins Houston’s Newest Sports Arena
What is esports and why is it a big deal?
This is not an uncommon question these days. Forbes termed esports as a “quietly massive entertainment phenomenon.” With viewership surpassing traditional sporting events, like the World Series and the Super Bowl, esports is the rookie to watch this season. With global reach, the esports market is quickly climbing the ranks in monetary value with estimations exceeding$3 billion by 2022 – a 150% increase in less than four years according to Goldman Sachs.
So what’s the big deal? South Main Alliance, a non-profit that seeks to elevate the quality of life experience in Houston’s South Main area, asked this question and hosted a free, digital CommunityConnect event so people could find out more directly from esports industry experts as they demystify this phenomenon and share what it means to Houston.
University of St. Thomas’ Justin Pelt, assistant director and coach of the University’s Esports Program, served on the elite panel on esports titled, Houston’s Esports Revolution: A Digital Panel with Industry Experts.
Panelists included Chris Buckner, co-founder and CEO of Mainline GG; Adrian Collins, director of Operations, Harris County Sports & Convention Corp./NRG Park; Adam Hobbs, executive director, marketing and brand, Houston Outlaws; and Dustin Sweeney, senior designer, esports lead, HKS.
Each panelist offered perspective on the value they felt their individual organizations could provide:
Mainline GG: Chris Buckner gave an introduction to esports and how Mainline GG works with people from a production standpoint. The company is located on the UST campus.
UST: Justin Pelt touted the benefits of the University building a successful esports program and how that could positively impact the South Main Area.
Houston Outlaws: Adam Hobbs provided background information on the Houston Outlaws organization, vision for the future and what impact they’re trying to have in the Houston area.
HKS: Dustin Sweeney, with the HKS architecture firm, a creator of large arenas such as SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, pitched a vision for future esports venues, including one for Houston.
NRG: Adrian Collins elaborated on the value esports could bring to the city’s economy and offered ideas about how NRG could contribute, such as opening venue spaces, etc.
UST formed a campus esports club and competitive esports team that began competing in spring 2021, and St. Thomas will offer an esports minor to students beginning in fall 2021.