“I love the atmosphere:” New UIS Esports Arena creates dedicated space for gaming
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – When you think of playing sports, you probably think of a basketball court. But for some students at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS), it’s a new esports gaming arena.

“It’s been a project, probably about four years in the making,” Jay Swenson, the school’s assistant director of campus recreations, said. “We visited other schools and tried to see what their models were, and we kind of took what we liked from all of them.”

The new facility opened it’s doors last week. It has 12 gaming PCs and two console stations including an Xbox, PlayStation 5 and a Nintendo Switch.

“One thing we’ve noticed, too, is just with our online and commuter students, they are kind of looking for a place where they can hang out between classes or some reason to bring them on campus, we’ve noticed that this is already kind of becoming that hub,” Swenson said.

Students say they are enjoying the arena, which is in the Founders Residence Hall.

“I love the atmosphere, love being able to play games with friends or just be able to solo queue and just play without having to worry about bothering anybody,” Mattson Seelund, a sophomore at UIS, said. “It’s its own dedicated space. I love it.”

UIS has an Esports team that plays against other schools and the new facility gives students a space to compete.

“I definitely think you can make connections online,” Colten Soto, the facility monitor of the arena, said.  “It really builds a sense of community around it so other people can see what’s being done here as well.”

Students don’t have to be on the team to use the new space – the facility is open to anyone on campus.

“We kind of like the mix of letting our students who want to compete compete, but also not making it a roadblock for any students who want to come play,” Swenson said.

It cost about $135,000 to renovate the space for the arena, to furnish it, and for the computers. UIS and the Nelson Foundation covered the cost.

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