Whitaker Center to serve as home arena for Harrisburg University's competitive gamers
Some colleges have football stadiums. Harrisburg University will have a gaming arena.
Harrisburg University plans to use space at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg as the home arena for its new eSports program, the university announced Wednesday. Gamers will make use of the downtown complex's 40-foot theater screen during events like competitions and conferences, while spectators will be able to cheer on their teams from theater seating.
Harrisburg University announced plans for an eSports program earlier this fall. The program is set to debut at the start of the next school year and will be similar to traditional college sports offerings, except competitors will test their mettle in video games like "League of Legends" and "Overwatch" instead of in the football stadium or basketball court.
The university - which offers bachelor and graduate degree programs in science, technology and math fields - is one of 50 schools nationwide in the National Association of Collegiate eSports, and the only such school from the Mid-Atlantic.
For the Whitaker Center's leaders, offering the theater space as the home base for Harrisburg University's only varsity sport seemed like an opportunity to draw attention to everything the cultural center and event venue has to offer.
Whereas many eSports competitors have to cram into retrofitted classrooms, school officials say, the Whitaker Center has big screens and the ability to seat hundreds of spectators.
"Our students deserve to play in a facility that is commensurate to their level of talent," Harrisburg University president Eric Darr said in a news release Wednesday. "As this program grows, we know Whitaker Center will grow with us. It’s a game changer."