Harrisburg University ESports team finds home in Whitaker Center

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HARRISBURG, P.A. --- When Fall 2018 comes around, the ESports team at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology will call the Whitaker Center its official home arena.

Ted Black, President and CEO of the Whitaker Center, said he's become enthralled by the growth of ESports, worldwide, and hopes to tap into a new base of attendees, such as millennials.

"We want to be known as something like the Fenway Park of collegiate ESports," said Black.

In October, the school announced it will offer 15 full-ride athletic scholarships for its ESports team.

The Whitaker Center's Select Medical Digital Cinema will host live ESports matches in its 700-seat theatre, letting fans watch games, such as Overwatch, on their forty-foot tall screen.

"I think this is a huge opportunity for Harrisburg to put its flag in the ground and become a global beacon and become an ESports destination," said Black.

Harrisburg University of Science and technology will be the first Mid-Atlantic school to provide such a stage.

Michael Brooks, Executive Director of the National Association of Collegiate ESports (NACE), said they see the university as a trail blazer in a barren ESports region.

"We look at Harrisburg as a great leader in terms of showing its peer institutions what ESports programs could look like and should look like on their campuses," said Brooks.

University president Eric Darr said he hopes having the home arena can help build something the Harrisburg community can root for.

"To have ESports hopefully build teams that the community can be proud of and that compete on a national level and have the community watch and participate, no better opportunity than that," said Darr.

Amanda Fidler, president of the university's ESports Club, said students on campus who've grown with ESports now have pep in their step as the buzz keeps building.

"You see people walking more straight up, just like, you know, I'm finally being realized, recognized for the great that I'm doing," said Fidler.

Darr said the school is still looking for a head coach and the equivalent of an athletics director.

He said they're in the third day of interviews after narrowing down to five or six candidates for each position.

His hope is to have a coach by March, recruit throughout the summer, and have a team ready to practice by July 2018.

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