WINTER PARK, Fla. – Full Sail University on Tuesday celebrated the grand opening of a new gaming arena that could be a major step toward making Central Florida an e-sports destination.
At 11,200-square-feet, The Fortress is the largest esports arena on a U.S. college campus and can seat up to 500 spectators.
The arena allows 100 e-sports athletes to play simultaneously and features high-resolution LED screens, dynamic lighting and livestream capability.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony, Full Sail President Garry Jones said the venue is a big addition for the university.
"We're garnering really amazing interest from other regions," Jones said. "There will be all kinds of growing e-sports competitions here of different games."
The new arena is home to The Armada, which is the school's competitive esports team.
"It is a whole new world," e-sports strategist Bennett Newsome said. "It's something that can really give you chills when you get in there for the first time."
According to analytics firm Newzoo, competitive gaming is projected to be a billion-dollar industry in 2019.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said "The Fortress" could play a big role in bringing a large portion of the industry to Central Florida.
"E-sports has just blown up so big in the last several years," Dyer said. "Orlando is a hub for technology, especially in the area of modeling and simulation, so it's natural that we would be in the e-sports arena."
Gaming at The Fortress officially launched with a competition that began Sunday.
Jones said he expects the venue to be a very popular destination for gaming competitions.
"We have a lot of exciting interests, not by just other colleges but by professional e-sports teams, and not just in this region, but in other regions across the country," Jones said.