OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The old Kanza Hall at One Block South in Overland Park has a new purpose. LEVELUP opens this Friday.
It’s the third largest esports arena in the nation and the only one with a dedicated education program. The 15,000-square-foot facility has 100 gaming computers and consoles.
“It’s way beyond what I was even expecting,” 15-year-old Aidan O’Neill said.
Owners of the brand new LEVELUP Esports Arena said 92% of Americans now play video games, compared to 70% at the start of last year.
“It’s the fastest growing market in the world. A ($90) billion industry, and it just keeps doubling every year,” co-owner Joshua Garr said.
Congresswoman Sharice Davids, D-KS, and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and others checked out the space Thursday night.
“My guess is when they are going to be able to completely open this up, it’s going to be jam-packed full of people, playing but also learning,” Kelly said.
LEVELUP will have several after school esports educational programs, helping prepare K-12 students for more than 180 colleges offering scholarships across the country. They have broadcast studios for streaming and expect to host many tournaments for competitive gamers hoping to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.
“We’ll feature every event you can think of. We’ll have Call of Duty, Valorant, all the way down to Mario Kart, Smash Bros,” Garr said.
They also will cater to less-avid gamers who might be just as interested in the Gametime District’s revamped bars and restaurants. It’s home to Gametime Bar & Grill, Vivo Music Venue and EXP Bar. Bar and food service is also available inside the arena.
The esports arena boasts the newest, fastest processors for gaming, and for some players, there’s a chance to actually see who they’re usually competing against online.
“Coming here is an experience you don’t get at home. Plus, obviously the atmosphere is way better than your basement,” Garr joked.
Children under 13 need to be accompanied by a parent, teacher or coach. Game play is $10 per hour. Memberships are also available.