Esports facility to open at Mall of Georgia later this year

People play Overwatch in a tournament. AJC FILE PHOTO: Tonya McCahon for Blizzard Entertainment

People play Overwatch in a tournament. AJC FILE PHOTO: Tonya McCahon for Blizzard Entertainment

The Mall of Georgia will get an esports venue this fall, the first in a partnership between Allied Esports and Simon properties.

The venue, in a former Charming Charlie space at the mall, will host amateur tournaments for games like Fortnite, Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart, said Jud Hannigan, CEO of Allied Esports. He said he expects aspiring professionals and interested amateurs to come to the mall to play competitively.

Allied’s two-story, 13,000-square-foot space will host different tournaments every night of the week.

“There will always be some form of competition happening,” Hannigan said. “We’re really excited.”

John DiCioccio, the manager of the Mall of Georgia, did not respond to request for comment about what the addition of an esports venue will mean for foot traffic at the mall. In a statement, he said mall-goers enjoy experiential offerings, and the esports facility is a perfect complement to the other things the mall has to offer.

In addition to tournaments, the venue will have computers and consoles that people can use to play, as well as food and drink options.

Hannigan said malls are evolving to incorporate more experiences, and he thinks esports will be a draw. With different tournaments every night, he said serious gamers will flock to the area to see what is going on and what options they have to play.

"It's going to bring a great, dynamic crowd," he said. "They're going to stick around."

The mall is the largest in the southeast, and Hannigan said he valued the opportunity to use the Mall of Georgia as a base to expand from throughout the region. The company will have more co-located space within Simon malls, but the Buford location is the first partnership for the companies. Allied Esports is headquartered in Orange County, Calif.

Hannigan said he expects the venue to stay open later than traditional mall hours. As gaming continues to grow in popularity, he said, the audience for it will only grow.

“We feel like we’re so well positioned,” he said. “People are growing up on gaming like I grew up on baseball.”