LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Video game lovers in Colorado have a new place to perfect their craft.
The state’s first esports arena opened Friday in Lakewood, bringing a state-of-the-art gaming center to the Denver metro area.
The arena, called Localhost Arena, features 125 computers and monitors, and every game imaginable.
“If our industry is going to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into this, like traditional sports have. We’re going to need a solid foundation to do it,” says CEO John Fazio.
The growing esports industry is now valued at nearly $1 billion. Some colleges are even offering gaming scholarships, and it’s not uncommon for top players to pull in millions a year.
“It’s really gone mainstream,” says Fazio.
Matt Elmore is a professional gamer and coach who travels the world competing in video game tournaments.
Like many, he quit his 9-to-5 job to pursue a career in the lucrative gaming industry.
“It was a hobby. It was a side thing,” he says of gaming. “But there’s so many ways you can make money from this.”
Friday, he spent part of the afternoon training at Localhost Arena.
“Basketball, you have to practice layups, you have to practice free throws, and as weird as it sounds, in games, it’s the same thing. You have to practice.”
The popularity of e-sports is evidenced online, where streaming services like Twitch allow people to watch the best players compete in live games.
“If you want to be one of the best players in the world, you can aim for that. If you just want to play casually, you can. And that’s what makes this so great.”
Fazio hopes the arena draws the region’s gaming community together.
“Denver has a storied gaming community,” says CEO John Fazio. “People playing in conference rooms, church basements, gymnasiums, you name it. They’re bringing their old computers, lugging them out, setting up the network, playing and then leaving with all their equipment. Now, this is here.”
Fazio has plans to add a bar for people 21 and over, and hopes to keep the arena open past midnight on some nights.
After all, he says gamers have a habit of staying up late to play.
You can check out Localhost at 1882 S. Wadsworth in Lakewood.