By the time students arrive on the Butler University campus in fall 2022, a 7,500-square-foot space dedicated to esports and technology will be ready to welcome them back.
Butler first announced plans for the project in 2019—around the same time the new Esports and Gaming Center opened in Atherton Union. Pandemic restrictions put those plans on hold, but now with new renderings and a reapproved timeline, construction is about to begin.
The multi-use space housed in Butler’s Sunset Avenue parking garage will be known as the Butler Esports Park. With high-performance gaming PC’s and consoles, event and coworking spaces, a cafe, office areas for partner organizations, and a studio and production room, the venue will provide a hub for the tech community while expanding on Butler’s growing presence in esports.
“We strive to be a leader in building a culture of innovation, equity, and operational excellence that supports our students and their learning—both inside and outside of the classroom,” says Dr. Frank E. Ross, Butler’s Vice President for Student Affairs. “Even through a challenging year due to the pandemic, Butler engaged our students, faculty, and staff through esports in meaningful ways—adding a new academic minor, and pivoting to adapt recruiting, planning, and event executions, as well as creative opportunities for community engagement, to advance our holistic vision for esports.”
The Butler Esports Park has been designed by Populous, a world-renowned architectural firm known for their sports-focused spaces—from soccer stadiums, to basketball arenas, to training centers. Among the gaming community, the firm may be best known for its work on the new Fusion Arena in Philadelphia, or the 100,000-square-foot esports stadium in Arlington, Texas. The team now brings their expertise to designing an innovative esports facility on Butler’s campus.
“It is truly a pleasure to be on the front lines of the esports facilities movement across North America,” said Brian Mirakian, Populous Esports Director for the Americas. “Esports and gaming are becoming widely accessible to audiences more than ever before. By bringing together gaming, innovation, and a dynamic creator environment, we are setting the stage for a new paradigm for student life and collegiate esports. We’re tremendously excited to integrate this state-of-the-art project into the fabric of the Butler campus.”
When construction is complete, Butler expects the first business tenant will be Challonge—a software as a service company for esports competition management. Challonge is owned by Logitech and led by Butler graduate Matt McIntyre ’06. The team is already housed at Butler’s campus on the first floor of Bill and Joanne Dugan Hall, a space they moved into earlier this year. McIntyre is excited to be back at Butler. Challonge will be creating opportunities for student engagement, community events, and more.
“Butler Esports Park will become the epicenter of esports in Indianapolis,” McIntyre says. “It is uniquely positioned to benefit Butler’s rapidly growing esports program, and it will serve as a community asset capable of drawing major events to the city. I am personally excited to see the space play host to local and regional competitions, such as state and conference finals, as well as partner-driven global competitions, such as those we operate and broadcast under Logitech Esports Services for major game developers, publishers, and brands.”
“We are excited to provide a facility that will enhance our current activity and diversify our esports ecosystem,” says Eric Kammeyer, Butler’s Director of Esports and Gaming Technology.
While a tenant for the Butler Esports Park’s second office space is yet to be finalized, Kammeyer says he looks forward to partnering with these companies in accelerating the growth of esports and education technology in Indianapolis.
Esports in the Classroom
Building is just beginning on the new facility, but Butler students already have more ways to get involved with esports on campus—even in the classroom.
Butler’s College of Communication (CCOM) has launched an Esports Communication minor that kicks off this fall. This 18-credit-hour program provides students with a foundation in esports production, communication, business, marketing, and more—building in-demand skills needed for a variety of careers in the booming world of competitive gaming. Esports Communication students can also choose from one of several focus areas: multimedia graphics, leadership, sales, entrepreneurship, or media analytics.
“For years, Butler has been exploring opportunities in the esports space, focusing on community, competition, and curriculum,” says Dr. Lee Farquhar, Associate Professor and Interim Director of the Eugene S. Pulliam School of Journalism and Creative Media. “The Esports Communication minor has grown out of conversations among faculty from across the University, and it has been a campus-wide effort to create this interdisciplinary program. We are pleased to offer students this opportunity to learn the skills they’ll need to succeed in the ever-growing gaming industry. We look forward to utilizing the new Butler Esports Park as an academic resource.”
Butler Esports has been competing since 2017 and currently supports two titles that compete in the BIG EAST Conference: League of Legends and Rocket League. Beyond the BIG EAST, students can also compete in club esports titles in Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Rainbow Six, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and VALORANT.
Whether it’s hosting events or making way for new teams, the club’s members are excited about how the Butler Esports Park will help create new avenues for competition and production.
“Butler Esports has always been competitive, but this facility will allow us to take it to another level,” says Club Esports President Bryan Rogers. “The Butler Esports Park will help us grow the program to match the expanding world of competitive gaming. We are very excited to compete live in front of the Butler community and showcase the hard work of our players.”
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About Butler University
Butler University is a nationally recognized comprehensive university encompassing six colleges: Arts, Business, Communication, Education, Liberal Arts & Sciences, and Pharmacy & Health Sciences. Approximately 4,500 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students are enrolled at Butler, representing 46 states and 22 countries. More than 75 percent of Butler students will participate in some form of internship, and Butler students have had significant success after graduation, as demonstrated by the University’s 97 percent placement rate within one year of graduation. The University was recently listed as the No. 1 regional university in the Midwest, according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Rankings, in addition to being included in The Princeton Review’s annual “best colleges” guidebook.