Harrisburg University, the STEM-focused higher ed institution with campuses in the state capital as well as Center City Philadelphia, wants to help Harrisburg become a hub for esports.
Last August, 100 players from around the world tried out for one of 16 coveted spots on its varsity esports team, HU Storm. In September, it hosted 32 college esports teams from across the country for what it says was the “largest collegiate esports festival to date,” HUE Fest, organized by Northern Liberties’ own N3rd St. Gamers.
And earlier this month, the university inaugurated its latest investment into the world of esports: the HU Storm Practice Facility, a dedicated practice space for the team that features professional-grade gaming computers, 24-inch monitors and ergonomic gaming chairs.
With the addition of this space, housed inside the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts, the campus now features around 174,000 square feet of space for esports competitions, practices and live gameplay spaces that can host hundreds of spectators.
“This is truly a campus and community effort,” said the university’s president, Eric Darr. “We believe that Harrisburg will be the esports hub in the Northeast, we’re already seeing the local and larger esports community embracing it.”
Darr said the central location between Philadelphia, New York and Washington D.C. provides the city an ideal central location for gamers, fans and esports influencers. All three of those cities are active esports hubs, with official city teams in Blizzard’s Overwatch League, for example. Philly, a rising esports hub in its own right, will host a stop of the famed Hearthstone Championship Tour (and its prize pool of $1 million).
The push from Harrisburg University looks to tie the city’s brand to the rising attention to the esports industry, which professional services firm Deloitte projects will generate $1.5 billion in annual revenues over the next two years.
“We want to be to esports what Williamsport is to Little League baseball,” Darr said.-30-