Like Video Games? City Of Maricopa Creating Esports Rec Program

By Christina Estes
Published: Friday, July 12, 2019 - 2:41pm
Updated: Sunday, July 14, 2019 - 10:41pm

City of Maricopa
Student interns unpack new gaming equipment in preparation of Maricopa Esports League in July 2019.

Maricopa said it’s one of the few cities in the country to create an esports recreation program. Esports — also known as electronic sports — are video game competitions.

“Like everything, sports evolves,” said Nathan Ullyot, community services director for Maricopa. “The same way that, you know, 30 years ago snowboarding wasn’t a part of really anybody’s landscape except for the fringe that invented it. It’s now an Olympic sport.”

Ullyot said traditional youth sports leagues see a decline around the age of 7-10 years old when kids decide they don’t like it or they’re not good at a certain sport. He doesn’t anticipate that with esports because people who like video games don’t quit playing.

“The demographics are almost limitless for us to tap, so from a revenue standpoint, it’s going to be a very sustainable program,” he said.

A special class will take place at Copper Sky Recreation Center in Maricopa on Saturday at 3 p.m. that will support the city’s efforts. The Maricopa Unified School District Esports Club is inviting adults and kids to help them assemble computers that will be used by teams in video game competitions. Going forward, the high school students will help operate, maintain and repair the league’s technology.

“I think the selling point to parents is, ‘Your kid’s not a loser because they’re playing video games,” Ullyot said. “From a leadership aspect, it’s a big way for kids to be able to work as a team now whereas before they’re planning by themselves or with friends they don’t meet.”

"I think the selling point to parents is, ‘Your kid’s not a loser because they’re playing video games.'"
— Nathan Ullyot, community services director for the city of Maricopa

Maricopa is spending money up front to build what it calls an arena — two rooms at the recreation center that are being combined to create a place for teams to compete — but Ullyot said ongoing costs will be minimal.

Next month, Maricopa — which is about 35 miles south of downtown Phoenix in Pinal County — plans to launch a pilot league with two teams, one for younger children and one for high school students. The full launch will be open up to kids and adults and cost the same as other city sports leagues, which is $50-$75 depending on residency. 

Updated information about the league can be found on the Maricopa Esports Facebook page.

guy looking at wiring
City of Maricopa
Maricopa employees complete the wiring of the community Esports Arena in July 2019.

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