UT Austin Launches Alienware Longhorn Esports Arena
By Robert Gonsoulin
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin officially opened its Alienware Longhorn Esports Arena in the Texas Union Underground this month.
Built in association with Dell Technologies, the new facility provides a space for the Longhorn Gaming Teams to compete and allows students to play video games in their spare time. The esports arena is the newest addition to an on-campus recreation area that opened in the 1960s.
James Buckley, the University Unions director of facilities and operations, said the arena will enhance student life by building community and letting students play together.
“Students as well as non-students come into the Underground for the first time since the arena’s opened, and are like, ‘Wow! The mothership is here,’” Buckley said.
The arena adds 20 PC and additional TVs to the Alienware Longhorn Esports Lounge that opened in fall 2022. The more competitive Longhorn Gaming teams also have access to a varsity room reserved for gaming competitions and practicing.
UT Austin’s esports coordinator, Austin Espinoza, said it has higher-end equipment to allow players to focus more on promoting themselves for the professional level of gaming.
“I’m very excited for the varsity space, which will allow our teams space to practice consistently, which has a whole bunch of huge benefits,” Longhorn Gaming president Jack Alberts said.
The rest of the arena remains free for all students to enjoy.
“It feels like a good opportunity to come down here when I want something low-key that’s just not too much stress. Just to de-stress. It feels like a good opportunity to de-stress,” UT student Solakemi Elekolusi said.
Esports coordinator Espinoza said efforts to build an arena somewhere on campus took several years. Since coming to UT as a freshman in 2015, he saw a need for a specific space for the Longhorn Gaming teams to operate. Fulfilling this necessity was a goal he always wanted to accomplish.
“For the last eight years, I’ve been telling the university this is something we need to build. And we finally built it, so it’s basically a dream come true,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza said the esports arena helps put UT in a position to compete with top competitive esports programs in the country and foster an environment where people can fall in love with gaming.
The giant space that includes the PCs and game consoles is just part of the arena–a production studio is directly across from the entrance. Espinoza said this area will broadcast Longhorn Gaming competitive esports events hosted at the arena.
Alberts also expressed appreciation for the overall larger capacity that the arena creates. The facility will allow the Longhorn Gaming teams to host larger and different events than they have in the past.
Buckley said the arena modernizes a famous spot for students that stands out for its bowling lanes, and will give students a new way to pass time while they wait for lanes to open.
“It’s kind of the retro with bowling, and then we’ve got the modern new with esports gaming,” Buckley said. “These two, I think, over time will show they really complement each other.”
The Texas Union Underground also has air hockey tables, a foosball table and billiards.