Butler University recently received an anonymous $1 million gift from the estate of a Butler graduate that will be used to support construction of the Esports Park, a 7,320-square-foot, multi-use esports and technology facility on the University’s campus. Located on Sunset Avenue between Hinkle Fieldhouse and Clowes Memorial Hall, the space is currently under construction and set to open to the Butler community in August 2022, with a grand opening for the broader community later in the fall. The facility represents the latest in a series of strategic University investments in innovative esports and technology programming designed to support Butler students by integrating competition, curriculum, and the broader community.
The Esports Park provides a dedicated home on campus for connecting competitive and recreational esports with educational and career opportunities in what is expected to become a $4.75 billion industry by 2030. The facility will feature approximately 50 gaming PCs, an area of gaming consoles, and virtual reality. There is also space for technology-infused corporate training events, as well as youth STEM and esports camps. The facility has broadcast production capabilities for live events such as podcasts and esports competitions, a coworking space, a cafe, and office spaces available for lease to support related small companies and organizations.
“The Esports Park was designed with the goal of providing the University and Central Indiana with an esports and technology hub, applying Butler’s signature level of excellence to an emerging area of academic and corporate interest,” Eric Kammeyer, Butler’s Director of Esports and Gaming Technology, said. “Our goal is to build a diverse and inclusive esports program partnered with a state-of-the-art facility. Strategic community partners further the vision to become a national model for other higher education institutions on how to incorporate esports and its accompanying technology into a holistic academic and competitive program. This benefits the entire University and surrounding community.”
Butler’s varsity esports teams compete in the BIG EAST in both Rocket League and League of Legends, with club-level esports teams competing in 13 titles. Along with competitive play, esports is also incorporated into Butler’s curriculum with a dedicated Academic Coordinator of Esports and professors teaching courses on esports production, multimedia production, sportscasting, and more.
A minor in Esports Communication was recently added to the curriculum, providing students with in-demand skills in esports production, communication, business, marketing, and more, while preparing them for a variety of careers in esports. The first student to complete this minor graduated last month, and classes for the fall semester are full.
While growing student interest in esports was a primary catalyst for the Esports Park’s creation, Butler’s long-term vision for the facility includes aligning with two of the city’s economic engines—sports and technology—to drive strategic partnerships that will benefit the city and state. Sportstech startups are already thriving in the Indiana economy, and Butler is poised to prepare students for the burgeoning industry.
Butler’s esports programming has also drawn the interest of philanthropic donors who see the long-term potential in the investment. Butler Trustee Bob Wildman and his wife Jane Wildman have supported Butler esports since 2019 and, through their leadership, inspired more than 50 new donors to join them through a challenge during this year’s Butler Day of Giving in February.
“Butler’s holistic esports strategy is opening exciting doors of opportunity for future students and for the broader Indianapolis community, and we are thrilled to see this facility coming to life on campus,” Bob Wildman said. “We are proud of the way Butler continues to evolve and take initiative to effectively serve students and the community through innovative courses, programs, and partnerships like those that will be made possible in this new space. We look forward to seeing the ways the Esports Park will enrich the campus and our city.”