Playing video games as a sport is becoming big business around the country and world - and the University of Delaware is joining in.
UD President Dennis Assanis led the cheers as the university held a grand opening for its new Esports Arena Friday.
The arena is on the first floor of the school’s Perkins Student Center and is free to the UD community. There are 25 games that gamers can access including Fortnite, League of Legends and Rocket League.
Assanis says the 1,800 square foot arena with 33 high performance computers, comfortable competition chairs, a broadcast booth and stage for competition play will be a big draw for the university.
"This arena is exciting for a number of reasons, nine out of 10 teenagers play video games and they want to elevate their game when they come to college, so we want to give those high school students one more reason to come to UD," said Assanis.
The school is not disclosing how much the privately-funded arena cost.
But Assanis says it will be a valuable tool for students who use it.
“The lessons that our students will learn here are important for their development, their creativity, their communication, their leadership in society and so much more. It takes planning, teamwork, critical skills and their ability to develop a strategy, and execute the steps to achieve your goals," said Assanis. "All of those skills are absolutely essential for success in whatever fields our students and graduates pursue.”
Assanis adds the university may build more arenas on campus in the future and look to partner with school districts in the state to help them build esports programs.
He is also interested in teaming up with other higher education institutions in the state to show them the way to build an esports arena.
Senior Lucas Scott is part of the team that has already used the arena in league play, where UD is undefeated. He says it’s been busy since opening Monday.
"There have been students in it literally everyday noon to midnight the teams have been practicing in here it's been great we get this place where this community that really didn't have like a specific place before gets to meet and grow and talk to other people about their experiences and everything has been really awesome seeing it come together," said Scott.
The arena is part of UD’s hope to turn its game studies minor into a major with scholarship potential for students.