eSports Arena to Open at UIS This Semester
A closed grill at Founders’ Residence Hall at the University of Illinois Springfield has transformed into a soon-to-be eSports arena.
The new eSports arena is slated to become a multi-use room where university students can practice for esports, compete against other colleges, and play recreationally when it opens in mid-August. In addition, students will get to determine which games are offered by the university rather than being told which games are offered.
The arena will be open to all students free of charge regardless of whether they are on the eSports team, though everyone will only be allowed two hours a day in this new arena. Students who wish to watch an eSports match are also able to watch through a TV in a nearby room and might possibly get to be in the arena with the competitors, though this part might change in the future.
The idea for this arena has been greeted with enthusiasm not just by the eSports team but also by the Student Government Association and several different university offices. Several departments have also provided funding for this idea. This has been greatly beneficial as the room renovation costs around $70,000, and the computers cost an additional $30,000. About $5,000 will also be set aside yearly for maintenance and getting newer computers.
Despite the high cost, many people have expressed the belief that the price has been well worth it. The computers, assembled by a university IT worker, are described as being the best in the school. Some students who work at Best Buy ran into the IT worker buying parts for the computer, and they told him that he was buying “the best stuff you can get,” said James Koeppe, director of the Department of Campus Recreation. The extra funding also allowed the university to buy wireless mice for the computers.
In addition to high-quality desktop computers, students will also have the choice to play on Playstation 5s as well.
Progress on the room itself has also come along quite well. While the initial deadline was the end of May, it has since shifted to the middle of August and has been going along smoothly. With around a dozen workers, the project is expected to be completed on time and ready for the fall 2023 semester, which begins on August 28, Koeppe said.
The project has also made significant progress due to the lack of opposition from anyone who could have slowed down the project. Initially, some people were skeptical about an eSports arena, including Koeppe himself. However, James has since come to believe that it is an important thing to have.
The ultimate goal of the new eSports room is to give students a sense of belonging and community. The university hopes that it will help give a reason for students to come to the campus and stay at the university.
Lane Smith, a soon-to-be junior at Athens High School, wrote this article as part of the UIS Summer Journalism Camp for high school students being held July 17-21.