College Campuses Nationwide Announce New Esports Facilities | Sports Destination Management

College Campuses Nationwide Announce New Esports Facilities

Dec 03, 2022 | By: Michael Popke

Football and other traditional fall sports aren’t the only activities generating excitement on college and university campuses this year. Esports arenas celebrated grand opening, too — providing further confirmation that today’s institutions of higher education are helping train tomorrow’s esports professionals.


Here are details on three collegiate esports arenas striving to take such spaces to the next level:


• After four years of planning and development, Ohio University celebrated the opening of its $723,000 esports arena in September. Located in the basement of an academic building, the space attracted several students and high-ranking administrators during a special ceremony.


“I think it’s a really great thing for the students, and we’re really glad that they have these interactive spaces,” Shawna Wolfe, associate vice president of university planning (who played Rocket League for the first time that day), told The Post, the university’s campus newspaper. “And we need to have more of this kind of thing on the campus for everyone.”


esports arenas opening on college campusesJeff Kuhn, director of the Bobcat Esports Club (which has more than 500 members), told the paper that “he has been working on the arena with the students in the club for four years. … [T]hey started with drafting layouts and plans with different architecture teams looking for approval from the students. OU’s board of trustees approved a $650,000 budget in January 2020, which was increased to $750,000 in August that same year.”

In addition to providing a space for gaming, the arena also is designed to help students gain skills for a career in esports. Highlights include a broadcast station with an announcer’s desk, as well as a production and editing room to oversee livestreams on Twitch and YouTube.

• Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., unveiled the REGITAR USA High Res Arena in September. Located on the second floor of the university’s recreation facility, the space is named after REGITAR USA — a leading manufacturer and distributor of automotive components based in Montgomery that is a sponsor of the facility.

Faulkner’s varsity esports team is organized under the university’s Athletics Department, and the new arena is divided into three sections: a training area (with 12 individual gaming stations, a commentator booth and a communal gaming area), the official six-station arena (where matches are played, recorded and broadcast), and a theater for spectators to watch a livestream of each match.

According to the university, “[t]he design and equipment for Faulkner’s esports arena were made possible by working with Faulkner alumni Kevin Arvin and Harry Slaughter, including new computers, monitors, gaming chairs, desks, special lighting and production equipment.

• Vermont’s Champlain College, the first college to offer a four-year academic program in video game development in 2004, opened a new esports arena at the college’s Miller Center Lakeside campus in Burlington in September. It is equipped with more than 24 stations, digital media stations and a full broadcasting suite. Varsity esports at Champlain launched last spring.


“Our new esports arena rounds out Champlain’s incredible game offering and gives students the opportunity to explore the game industry at every level,” Christian Konczal, director of esports at Champlain College, told Vermont Business Magazine. “This is a space where our student community can come together to prepare for the highest levels of competitive play and a variety of game-related careers.” 


“There isn’t really anything like this arena in Vermont,” he added during an interview with Seven Days, an independent weekly newspaper in Burlington.


Konczal also predicted that the NCAA will create its own esports league sooner rather than later, just as the National Junior College Athletic Association did in 2019. “Right now, colleges and institutions are coming to terms with the fact that kids have been running leagues for years without their involvement,” he told Seven Days.

Earlier this year, ggCircuit — a company that helps esports centers successfully run their businesses — identified the “22 Best Esports Arenas in America” for 2022. Notably, one-third of them were located on college and university campuses: University of Akron; Boise State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Central Oklahoma; Grand Canyon University; University of Kentucky; The Ohio State University; and Rutgers University.

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