CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois University in Carbondale is launching a new Esports Arena as it embraces a new era of competition and electronic gaming.
The 1,200-square-foot (110-sq. meter) facility opens Aug. 16 with an open house at the Student Center, the Southern Illinoisan reported. Interim Chancellor John M. Dunn will conduct the ribbon-cutting festivities. The arena will serve as home base for the SIU esports team.
“The whole premise of this from the Chancellor was to create a home base for the Esports team to compete in and a place for the community to play/learn more about Esports,”said Brandon Macier, marketing assistant director of the Student Center.
Esports is one of the world’s fastest growing sports, emerging into a billion-dollar industry with more than 300 million enthusiasts worldwide. Collegiate teams, tournaments and competitions are arising across the United States, with SIU’s new arena providing more opportunities for the local and campus gaming community.
The initiative was first started by the late Chancellor Carlo Montemagno. In fall 2018, the Esports Arena was a debated topic at a Board of Trustees meeting. Following a momentary hold, the construction resumed again with completion wrapping up this summer.
The school’s new arena comprises of more than 20 popular games, which include Fortnite, Apex Legends, Battlefield and assorted FIFA and Madden NFL games.
Kent Epplin, associate director of the Student Center, said SIU’s move to esports is an ideal way to involve more of the school’s students and increase excitement for nontraditional sports.
“The Esports Arena provides new opportunities to students to become engaged on campus,” Epplin said.
After open house, the open play will start Aug. 19, which is the first day students return to campus for classes. A special free play night for SIU students is also scheduled for Aug. 17, during the annual Dawgs Night Out.
“We really wanted to create something that students, staff, faculty and the community would be proud of,”Macier said. “All of the attention to detail and the little things we are tweaking, we are doing it so people can take ownership and be proud of this space on campus.”