Durham College Opens New eSports Arena on Campus

For about one year, a Vancouver company has been touting the opening of an esports arena in Richmond, one that was to be the first of its kind in all of Canada. The facility was to open in 2019, but there has been little news since then.

Durham College in Oshawa decided to take the plunge first. On April 2 of this year, the campus in southern Ontario opened its own esports facility. The arena will serve as a training area for its own esports team, the Durham Lords. It will also host tournaments with seating for up to 120 spectators.

The delays on the Vancouver project may be temporary. However, it lost its ability to claim to be the first esports arena in Canada. Durham College claimed that honour last week.

Esports Arena Open for Business

The esports arena on the campus of Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology opened on April 2. In the process, officially becoming the first of its kind in the area.

The 3,000 square feet facility was first announced in July 2018. It was then was set to be constructed in the DC Student Centre on campus as a part of the renovation of the former E.P. Taylor pub area. The eSports Gaming Arena was a way for Durham College to “take a leading role in one of the fastest-growing industries in the gaming market.”

The school used some capital, combined with private and corporate donations, to complete the first part of the project. This includes space for 46 gaming computers that are ready for broadcasting and streaming. In addition to a lounge that holds up to 120 spectators for tournament action.

Technically, the arena was the first of a four-phase plan to expand esports, with an esports club and classes also on the agenda. Meanwhile, the varsity Durham Lords was another part that was established as the arena was being built. That team already competes with others across North America.

– Removing Esports Stigma

At the time, School of Business, IT & Management Executive Dean Marianne Marando said it was a part of the future of esports. “Construction of the arena is the first step in providing the necessary space and equipment for students to pursue their gaming passion and talents.” She mentioned more opportunities in the future in the form of planning esports events, promoting and hosting them, and even broadcasting.

In less than one year, the eSports Gaming Arena was open. Its new manager, Sarah Wagg, said that the presence of such an arena on campus removes some of the stigma surrounding esports and the video gaming world. “With a collegiate push behind it, it’s becoming a household term,” she said. “We’re showing that there are initiatives for college students so they can learn, grow, and hone their craft.”

Special Kind of Sport

As esports has grown around the world, more young people have taken an interest and pursued it as a career path. The billion-dollar industry is now popular on a global level. In fact, many of the largest cities in the world are currently investing in massive esports arenas. For instance, Las Vegas recently opened the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

As for Durham, it wants to be a competitor on all levels. College President Don Lovisa noted, “It’s a great opportunity for us to teach our students how to succeed in that industry.”

Not only does he want Durham to become the “undisputed leader” in esports, he wants to enhance the programming surrounding it to include issues like sports management and broadcasting. “It serves as an academic enterprise, an experimental learning enterprise, but most of all it serves as a really cool place to go and game for people who are gamers.”

Most sports programs to date focused on physical sports, but this is different. “From a varsity athletic standpoint, if we’re catering to our traditional sports students,” said Lovisa, “we shouldn’t be neglecting our esports students. We should be providing a home for them as well.”

The new esports initiatives have done that thus far. Providing gamers with a sense of community and their own team to support in the Durham Lords. And more than simply providing equipment, the education surrounding the industry can be beneficial in many of the students’ career paths in the future.

Affordable eSports

The new eSports Gaming Arena is open daily Monday through Friday from noon to 9:00pm. Players are able to pay $3.75 (plus tax) per hour to use a gaming station. Or they can purchase a three-hour package for $10.

Those who want to see the Durham Lords compete can check the schedule on the DurhamLords-dot-com website. Meanwhile, tryouts for team places take place in the fall of 2019. The team currently competes across a number of esport disciplines. These include CS:GO, League of Legends, Super Smash Brothers – Melee, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Rocket League, and Heroes of the Storm.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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