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Dallas Fuel ‘hopeful’ of making money from inaugural Overwatch home fixture

The Dallas Fuel are confident they will sell out the inaugural ‘home’ fixture in Overwatch League history – but are uncertain if they will make money from the weekend.

The Fuel will host eight matches over two days, from April 27–28, at the Allen Event Center, making it the first time that Overwatch games will be staged outside of the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.

Overwatch will stage three “Homestand Weekends” this season, the league’s second campaign. The Atlanta Reign and Los Angeles Valiant will also host matches in July and August respectively.

They represent an important test to see how the league – and competitive-gaming leagues in general – can sell tickets in local markets and whether home games are financially viable.

“Everything in Texas is bigger and bolder and when the opportunity arose – and it was offered to all the teams – we said not only are we raising our hands but we’ll be the first ones to do it,” Mark Coughlin, the chief revenue officer at Envy Gaming, which runs the Fuel, told SportBusiness.

“We’re excited, we want to be playing in our home market, to be able to bring eight teams over two days is an exciting thing for us.

“The capacity will be 4,200-4,300 each day. We’ve had an unbelievable response. I’d say we’re almost completely sold out on the most expensive ticket that we have, which surprised the hell out of me. We are well ahead of our projections to fill the place.”

The Fuel are hopeful of securing title and presenting sponsors for the event, while there will be other opportunities for companies to activate. The team will also gain income from concessions and merchandise sales but must also share much of the revenue with other Overwatch teams.

“We’re hopeful that we make money – but we’re not going to make a lot of money,” Coughlin added. “There is a lot of cost in putting these things on, there is a huge video board that you need which is a huge expense, the stage, the production to make it look like a big deal costs a lot of money and we have to hire a lot of temporary staff, those type of things.

“We’re planning on it being revenue positive but if not it’s a marketing cost that is a coming-out party that we’ll build from. We are going to host a lot of sponsors on a national and local level to show them what esports is all about.”

The Overwatch League – which has teams in Asia, Europe and North America – will aim to move its franchises to their home cities and start playing home and away games by 2020. It is unclear how this will work logistically or financially.

“We knew what we were getting into – this is a long-term play,” Coughlin said. “Nobody knows what the league is going to be on a local level, what the week-in week-out crowds are going to be.

“You could be licking those wounds for a while but many organisations will rent arenas and take it slow. We all hope demand outstrips supply.”