Developers expect gamers and esports leagues to flock to a new virtual reality gaming arena in downtown Davenport. And they've already sold out the center's first esports tournament this weekend.
Co-founder Steve Grubbs, owner of VictoryVR, and facility director Chase Neukam cut a ribbon Thursday for the $400,000 gaming center, Paradigm, complete with virtual reality gaming stalls, a free roam VR area, spaces to rent high-end gaming computers, plus an esports league arena for competitions.
Now complete, Grubbs called the facility "a visual and sensory feast."
Paradigm, 320 E. 2nd St., will host its first esports tournament Saturday, with teams playing "Fortnite." While the tournament is already booked, there is still space for visitors to watch the competition, Neukam said.
The center also offers virtual reality racing. And, players can rent a Nintendo Switch for an hourly rate, or a variety of computers, ranging from basic gaming computers to some of the most expensive computers on the market, Neukam said.
After school hours, Paradigm will use virtual reality equipment for student tutoring. And Grubbs plans to offer corporate and employee training in the evenings.
Because Paradigm combines esports, virtual reality gaming and free-roam virtual reality experiences, Grubbs claims it'll be the first facility of its kind.
"We are bringing the world's first esports and VR training and gaming center to Iowa," he said. "With Intel, Respawn and HP technology behind this facility, there's nothing quite like it. It's our goal to create an experience that becomes a destination for the Midwest."
Paradigm has sponsorship agreements with Intel and Respawn Gaming Chairs, a division of HON Industries. And most recently, St. Ambrose University announced its new esports team, preparing for its first season as a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports, is partnering with Paradigm.
The college will be the naming sponsor of the esports arena, supporting the Fighting Bees Gaming League. It will host college and high school teams throughout the area, with competition beginning in October and taking place each Tuesday, according to a news release. High school teams will compete in "Fortnite," "Overwatch" or "League of Legends."
Paradigm opens to the public Friday. Starting at 5 p.m., visitors can test out games and VR racing equipment, take a walk through an Egyptian tomb and more.
For more information, visit Paradigm’s Facebook page.