Esports @ WMU update

Little Theatre on East Campus selected as site for WMU esports arena

February 20, 2018

After weeks of reviewing possible campus locations for the new Esports @ WMU arena, the Little Theatre on Western Michigan University's East Campus has been selected as the site that will be home to the effort that is one of two transformational initiatives set to launch in fall 2018.

An eight-member project team has spent recent weeks visiting and reviewing campus locations with the goal of finding a location that can be readily renovated into an area in which students can compete and spectators have a comfortable place to watch competitions, says Scott Puckett, project manager. 

Built in 1942 and renovated in 1997, the Little Theatre seats 192 and has a traditional stage and auditorium-style seating. While most colleges and universities have built esports facilities along the traditional computer lab model, Puckett says, the opportunity to use the Little Theatre will give WMU an esports venue focused on interaction and hosting competitions.

With the location decision made, Puckett says the next steps will be to form small working groups to focus on the design and functionality of the Little Theatre stage, electrical and construction needs, and creation of a website for the project. Project plans call for the esports arena to be equipped with a minimum of 22 stations that can be used for competitions and skill development at the club sport level.

The intent is for the University to open its gaming facility at the start of the fall 2018 semester and make it available for a variety of competitive events, including community video gaming events. The facility is also expected to allow for the development of academic programming designed to meet the career demands of what is expected to be a $1.5 billion U.S. industry by 2020.

Project team members have already begun reaching out to groups on campus to promote the new facility. They visited the Feb. 10 meeting of the League of Legends Registered Student Association and had a booth at the Feb. 19 admitted student gathering on campus.