Crestwood’s ePLEX will be the first dedicated esports arena in the SouthEast

The ePLEX exterior. Photo via Chris Donaldson.

Attention gamers! Did you know Birmingham will be home to the Magic City ePLEX, the first dedicated Esports Arena in the Southeast? Here’s what you need to know.

I was first introduced to video games with Call of Duty, all the way back in 2003. During middle and high school, I spent my free time playing video games, such as Minecraft, with friends. However, I never dreamed that video games would become as huge as they are today.

eSports coming to a school near you

A virtual racer decked out in ePLEX logos.
No… this isn’t real life. A virtual car decked out in ePLEX logos. Photo via Chris Donaldson.

I was surprised to learn that the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) recently started an eSports program. “eSports” stands for Electronic Sports, which takes video games to a new level. eSports require teamwork, communication, strategy, and more.


In high schools throughout Alabama, students can join their school team and compete for a state championship. However, many high school eSports programs do not have the necessary funding. As a result, the players are torn between playing on their school’s outdated computers, or purchasing their own. Since gaming computers can cost upwards of $1000, it is a difficult choice.

So, that’s where the ePLEX comes in

Concept uniforms for the ePLEX team. Photo submitted by Chris Donaldson.

In order to support local teams, the ePLEX will offer a plethora of opportunities for gamers.

  • 40 PC gaming stations powered by top-of-the-line HP Omen Desktops
  • Virtual Reality from VR Studios and SpringboardVR
    • These wireless headsets will allow the user to game in a free-roam environment
  • Retro Alley: featuring classic arcade games such as Pac-Man, Galaga, and Pinball
  • Console room with 18 Playstation’s and Xbox’s
  • Competition stage with 10 stations, all streaming to Twitch.tv

“We provide an atmosphere that fosters the creation of relationships between gamers, spectators and entertainment seekers of all ages and skill levels.”

Play, train and compete

The stage at the ePLEX will have 10 game stations all streaming live to Twitch
The main stage at the ePLEX will have 10 game stations all streaming on Twitch.tv. Photo by Chris Donaldson.

For some players, video games aren’t just fun and games.


For those who want to take their eSports gameplay to the next level, the ePLEX has helpful resources. In addition to offering a place to practice, the ePLEX’s coaching academy will help players bring their gameplay to the next level.

“Around the country, all the big arenas are pro-centric. We are the first eSports studio to focus on amateur players.”

Chris Donaldson, Director and Financial Committee Chair at ePLEX

Don’t worry parents–there’s something for you too!

The restaurant will offer wine and beer from Birmingham's local breweries.
This area will be the restaurant in the ePLEX. Photo via Chris Donaldson.

When I was a kid, my parents sat out in the hot sun for hours while I played tee-ball. If the ePLEX had been around back then, I bet my parents would have chosen the ePLEX over sitting in Alabama’s summer heat!

In addition to the state-of-the-art eSports equipment, the ePLEX offers entertainment for non-gamers. The ePLEX restaurant features food options ranging from pizza to salads. Additionally, there are 8 taps featuring local beers from Birmingham’s breweries. Furthermore, the restaurant TV will let you watch your child’s gameplay while you enjoy some rest and relaxation.


When can I start to play at the ePLEX?

The VR stations at the ePLEX
The VR stations will be under the red trusses. Additionally, your friends can see what you see on the TV! Photo submitted by Chris Donaldson.
  • The ePLEX is scheduled to open in mid-November

Since the eSports market grows every day, it’s exciting to see Birmingham lead the way in this emerging industry. We can’t wait to see what happens at the Magic City ePLEX!

What game would YOU like to play at the Magic City ePLEX? Let us know by tagging @BhamNow

Author: Nathan Watson

Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.