Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Esports Arena opens at Texas Union to support gaming community

Mackenzie Coleman

The newly opened Alienware Longhorn Esports Arena, situated next to the Union Underground, bustled with activity. Students filled the space, playing video games like Valorant and Super Smash Bros. on the Arena’s monitors and desktops. 

The Arena officially opened on Wednesday, Oct. 11, after over two years of planning and construction, and builds on the success of the Alienware Longhorn Esports Lounge on the Union’s ground floor. 

“I was blown away with how many people showed up (to the grand opening),” said Austin Espinoza, esports student program coordinator for University Unions. “It was an overwhelming amount of support from the University and local areas.”

The project began in 2020 when Espinoza, then senior and president of Longhorn Gaming, envisioned a permanent space for esports on campus. He contacted the University Unions and the Division of Student Affairs to propose the project. 

“All this time, we’d been working, from the planning, the design, the conceptual drawings, to construction drawings, to the actual construction of the arena,” said James Buckley, director of facilities and operations for University Unions. 

Buckley said the project faced some challenges during the planning and construction processes. 

“Some of the challenges we faced once we identified the space was getting some of the HVAC heating and cooling correct because we’ve got a great number of gaming systems,” Buckley said.

During the Arena’s development, the team realized construction would take longer than initially expected, so they first built a smaller space that eventually became the Esports Lounge.

“The lounge went in last summer,” Buckley said. “It started (construction) right after commencement and was ready by the time school started.” 

Buckley said the Union currently plans to operate the Lounge and the Arena simultaneously, and Espinoza said he imagines the spaces could become hubs for students and local community members interested in gaming and the video game industry. 

“There’s a real opportunity here for students to get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment and be able to present themselves well to the private sector for future jobs,” Buckley said. 

Billy Malamon, assistant director for communications and marketing for the University Unions, said the lounge also serves as a relaxing space for students.

“If you want to have some recreation (because) you’re really stressed out, it’s a great place to come (and) decompress and get your mind off school and some things that are stressing you out,” Malamon said.

Any student can reserve a desktop at the Arena for $3.50 an hour.

“You can come to the lounge with a UT EID that you need to log into computers and hang out with friends or bring guests to the console area,” Espinoza said.

Espinoza said the space will also serve as a home for Longhorn Gaming and other campus gaming organizations.

“Having the space now come alive has given (on-campus gaming organizations) this newfound sense of belonging where they’re able to really connect with each other after COVID,” Espinoza said. “Now having this space that’s always prepared for them is a world of difference.”

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