Friday the University of Akron debuted three newly built “state-of-the-art” esports facilities to support the institution’s teams in League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike:Global Offensive, Hearthstone, and Rocket League, along with casual and competitive play in Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege and Super Smash Bros. Melee.
The three separate spaces are located in the honors college, Student Union and next to InfoCision Stadium making up a total of 5,200 sq ft. According to the announcement, this will be the largest collegiate esports facility of any university in the world. To compare, the University of California-Irvine’s facility, which opened in 2016, is 3,5000 sq ft.
Michael Fay, Director of Akron Esports said: “By creating these physical spaces, where they [students] can get to meet each other and share their experiences around their favourite game, we think it’s going to contribute to a significant campus culture of mastery, a pursuit of excellence in any discipline.”
The cost of building and outfitting the facilities was estimated to be around $750,000 but was also off-set by sponsorship deals. The university’s esports program grabbed a sponsorship from Audio-Technica in August. The audio company is based in Stow, Ohio, right outside of the city of Akron. The company supplied headsets for player stations as well as equipment for commentators and contributes about $5,000 in scholarships for varsity players and audio-engineers.
The University of Akron used volunteer engineering and computer science students to build the arena and will offer education and real-world experience for students majoring in the fields of communication, graphic design, and health and wellness.
Tim Inzitari, a sophomore computer science major and Hearthstone player for The University of Akron said: “Before this esports program I knew of four people on the campus who played Hearthstone. Now I know about 30. So, just building those friendships and communities has been really important. I’ve met people that I’m probably going to be friends with for a while.”
Ohio has been a popular area for esports development lately as Planet Oasis will be opening a 30,000-square-foot arena near Columbus, Ohio, and The Ohio State University recently announced an esports program.
Esports Insider says: Traditional sports teams need facilities, as do varsity esports teams. These state of the art facilities in place not only mean wonders for the players but for further legitimizing esports in the mainstream from a collegiate level and beyond.