Great Gaming at the Arizona Esports Arena

Jessica Koosmann

The Arizona Esports Arena is by far our favorite place on the University of Arizona’s campus — and its open for the general public. It’s a place for people to enjoy playing games, and to hang out with others. 

At The U of A? No Way!

 It has a completely different feeling than the rest of the student union, with a stark contrast from the gray and brown palette, it is a welcoming place to anyone. Walking in, the first thing you will notice is the dark interior and the constant flow of people. The lights are dim and LEDs cast colors of red and blue all over the room in an alternating but not overstimulating fashion. The computers themselves are on shelves encased in glass, providing a look into the background of the mechanics of the arena. They are high end, with the RTX 30 series cards, and Intel Core i7 Processors, which are some of the best on the market. Built to provide the best experience for any user, these PCs offer an optimal experience, even to those with their own home setups.

Comfortable Atmosphere, Available Here!

The desk at the front seats an employee, who will immediately ask if you are there to play games or just vibe out, which gives a welcoming and tranquil atmosphere to the room. Computers line the center of the room, which is every gamer’s dream, and consoles sit on the wall near the entrance desk, with TVs connected. Cozy chairs sit near the entrance, for people to nonchalantly play and talk with friends. 

A Different Way To Play…

A few people are always present, be it to play or just hang out, and the room is relatively quiet but not suffocatingly so. The air is light and casual, with people playing games such as Overwatch and Valorant, while their friends watch them attempt to clutch the 3v1. The variety of games gives everyone something to play, and there are plans to add even more. Lofi music plays in the background and there are games and spaces for everyone to find their niche. The room has a different feel from the rest of the union, with its stark contrast from the gray, muted tones of the food court, with vibrant lights in a dark space, differentiating it from any place in Tucson. The relaxed vibe, with plans to improve it further for gamers and casual enjoyers in the future make this place a must visit in Tucson.

Our Favorites

We personally have been to the Arena multiple times, and we always have fun. The games we have played the most at the arena are Mario Kart and Overwatch, usually with a couple of friends. We always enjoy playing at the Arena, as it allows for us to talk with each other when we play a game together, and we can all be sure that we are all coordinated. The employees at the arena are also very helpful, and can help you with anything you need, if you have any questions about games, computers, or really anything related to gaming. The computers feel very fast and responsive, and are much more fun to play on then my home setup, which makes it a much better place to play, with the added benefit of being able to interact with others and talk about games that you enjoy.

But Do They Have Events?

The arena hosts many events, for school related and recreational esports teams. The most recent event hosted at the Arena was The Valorant Coca-Cola Open, which was a tournament for the popular game Valorant, and it was sponsored by the Coca-Cola company. The tournament was open to all students, and was also streamed online. At the moment, there is only one future event scheduled, the Excel Esports Collegiate Challenge Finals, which have multiple students from the Eller College of Management competing! In addition to events hosted by the arena, the school varsity teams reserve the arena for their tournaments and scrimmages, and recreational enjoyers do the same. 

Wow, That Sounds Complicated, How Does It Work?

 In interviewing the manager, we were excited to learn that the employees work with you as best they can to avoid scheduling kinks and keep everything running smoothly so that everyone gets time at the arena. We are both managers for club teams with the school, meaning we run recreational video game teams, and we were ecstatic to know that we can reserve a time for our teams to practice, just like the actual school varsity teams for Overwatch and Valorant can. The Arena will charge a fee and reserve the place for you, watching for scheduling kinks and keeping everything organized for the client. 

How Do They Work With The University?

While the Arena is available for students and non students alike, it does work with the University as well. The Official University of Arizona Esports teams host practices for the Varsity esports teams at the arena on weekday nights, and competitive matches like tournaments for the teams on weekends, which are viewable on the Esports program’s Twitch channel: UArizona Esports. That’s not the only thing that the university is participating in partnership with the arena however, as U of A offers a History credit for playing the game “Age Of Empires IV”, Which includes all of the single player content, as well as a test at the end of the game to determine whether or not the player was paying attention.

What Is Your Favorite Part Of The Arena?

Looking for new friends? The arena is a great place to meet new people. With the constant flow of people in and out, there are always new people to meet. Finding someone who is into your game is even a good ice breaker. Games that are pre-downloaded range from aim training, all the way to Mario Party. Mainstream games, like League of Legends, Overwatch 2, and Valorant are always being played, and new games are constantly being added to the Arena’s library. People go to play with friends, and make new ones. Someone will be around playing a game you like at some point.

Not everyone goes for community. Plenty of people go for the laid-back atmosphere to play on the high-end computers on their own. It is easy for the quiet room to fade into the background as you become completely absorbed in your game, which is exactly what the arena is going for. The Esports Arena is just a room. Employees want the room to be relaxed, so you can find those perfect conditions to zone out and play your favorite games.

It is a great space to unwind. Whether you are finding a new community, or just reading in one of the lounge chairs near the entrance, the Arizona Esports Arena is a great break from the hustle and bustle of the student union, and the University of Arizona area in general. 


Jessica Koosmann is a fine arts student at the University of Arizona, where she manages the club Overwatch 2 esports team.

Otto Ellison is a business major at the University of Arizona, and manages the college Mario Kart League, as well as the club Mario Kart Team.