Thursday, March 15, 2018

So Long Toys 'R' Us. Hello eSports.


Double header on today's blog. There are two big announcements; one that will certainly alter the retail world.

- Sources with the retailer Toys 'R' Us are days away from making an official announcement that they are closing and selling all of their stores U.S. locations. On Wednesday, the company told it's 33,000 employees that the process will start soon, but will take some time to fully shut down. So no, not all of the stores are closing today/tomorrow/next week, but they will all most likely be out by the end of the year.

The company filed for bankruptcy 6 months ago and there hasn't been any improvement since then. They have had difficulty paying back an $8 billion debt that dates back to 2005. There are even reports that they have not been able to pay vendors such as Mattel and LEGO. Yesterday they did announce that they would be closing all 100 of their U.K. locations. This also includes Babies 'R' Us.

Given the number of people the company employs, that's going to have a huge impact on local economies and job numbers in the coming months. But this is not all of the Toys 'R' Us locations. There are roughly 200 in Canada and in various countries around the world. The store closures currently don't affect them, and there have been rumors that the company may sell the remaining international stores to keep the business open and move everything to Canada.

Though the company makes up at least 1/5th of toy/game sales in the U.S., after a decade of rough weather, they weren't able to keep up with the changes to the market.


- The city of Arlington, Texas (if you are a football or baseball fan, you know this city is home to 2 of Dallas' teams) is transforming their convention center into an eSports arena. Working with Esports Venues LLC and the architecture firm Populous, the city is putting $10 million into the project to make the convention center. They want this to be the "the largest and most flexible esports stadium in the country," according to officials.

The updates are expected to be completed by fall of this year. When it's completed, the facility will have 100k square feet in space to utilize, including seating for 1,000 spectators, vending areas, and a broadcasting studio. Esports Venues LLC will have a lease on the space for 10 years, with an option to renew.

The location is centered between Cowboys Stadium and Globe Life Park. It will become a sports epicenter for fans of...well whatever sport you want! The eenderings for the updates look interesting enough. There's a lounge center, more walkways, a display area for stuff - that's probably a place for a vendor booth. But I have to wonder if $10 million is going to be enough to cover the renovation. I was at the convention center a few months ago for a video game fair. Those rendered photos are much bigger and more impressive than what the current area can offer. Crew will need to demolish and strip out most of the interior to get it to look like that. There are low ceilings, cramped hallways, closed meeting rooms. It's not the most user-friendly of areas. We'll see what happens in a few months as construction commences.

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