Arena builders

How one of KC’s early Esports leaders is improving inclusive play (and why it’s C-suite or bust for his next pieces)

VSChange comes through leadership, said AbdulRasheed Yahaya, announcing he had acquired co-ownership of one of the country’s largest esports facilities – positioning him to take control and enhance his longstanding commitment to making industry a fair game for all. .

“To do this, I always knew I had to be at the decision-making table,” Yahaya told Startland News, recalling past leadership roles at various Esports entities, including Unified.GG, where he is Director of Business Development and Founder. became president of Local Legends Gaming — the mobile game center he sold to the Unified Electronic Sports Association (UEA) in 2020.

LEVELUP Arena at the GameTime District in Overland Park

Yahaya has since acquired co-ownership of GameTime District – a 35,000 square foot entertainment district in the Rosana Square 7300 W 119th St. mall in Overland Park.

“Three things that are for sure pandemic proof: video games, education and entertainment,” he said, referring to the state of the economy amid the pandemic. of COVID-19 and whether its volatility made him ponder the decision to go all-in with the company.

“I foresee [use this opportunity to] creating a pathway for gamers at all levels – students, competitors, and even teachers looking to further their education to better serve their students.

The space is home to EXP Bar, Wingman’s KitchenVivo Live and LEVELUP Arena: a 10,000 square foot esports and production facility – the largest in the Kansas and Missouri area, Yahya noted, and is home to the Kansas City Monarch Esports Team.

The LEVELUP Arena being here offered the opportunity to continue to make Kansas City a major hub for esports by giving it a physical home. The LEVELUP team was already doing amazing work on the competitive side of esports and I was looking for my next major investment – ​​and I couldn’t think of a better time to reinvest in Kansas City,” Yahaya said.

Take a video tour of the LEVELUP Arena, then keep reading.

Inasmuch as

Next level

Yahaya’s GameTime District property isn’t level one in his brick-and-mortar entrepreneurship game. He opened Local Legends Gaming Center in 2018 at 3933 Main St. in Westport — an expansion for the Local Legends gaming truck that served much of what LEVELUP now offers.

He closed the establishment in the summer of 2019 after six months of activity.

“The Local Legends Gaming Center was an experimental concept that taught me exactly what Kansas City was ready for when it came to shared gaming experiences and events,” he recalls.

“From a 5,000 square foot event space to a 35,000 square foot entertainment district, entertainment enthusiasts should expect a next-level experience.”

“With four bar options, live music, and multiple dining options, we’ve transformed what was once the One Block South neighborhood into an inclusive experience everyone should enjoy.”

“LEVELUP creates a hub for aspiring champions to train, compete and create. There are so many career paths that can come from esports. This space will create professional gamers and esports professionals” , he added, noting that he hopes his ownership of the facility can inspire black and brown players and those from other diverse backgrounds to pursue careers in leadership and entrepreneurship.

“At a time when representation couldn’t matter more, minorities need to see others like them in leadership and leadership positions if we are to show that they are equally valuable and valued” , Yahaya said.

“Black adults only occupy 0.8% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. Obviously, at some level, every [organization] wants to be diverse. But it can easily go wrong if it is not genuine.

The easiest way to (authentically) change those numbers: fill leadership positions with diverse talent, he continued.

“Diversity and inclusion are more important than what [a company or organization chooses to] do for, say, Black History Month. … How do you promote diversity throughout the year?

Because of this, Yahaya said, he will never settle for a position within an Esports entity outside of his C-Suite or leadership team.

“Nothing less – because I am no less,” he said.

AbdulRasheed Yahaya, LEVELUP, GameTime District

AbdulRasheed Yahaya, LEVELUP, GameTime District

This story is possible thanks to the support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundationa private, nonpartisan foundation that works with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create unusual solutions and empower people to shape their future and succeed.

For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and log on to www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn

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