UND Unveils the New Esports Facility

Maeve Hushman, Sports Reporter

The University of North Dakota recently opened a brand-new E-sports facility in the connecting area between the Memorial Union and Swanson Hall. The new facility comes after the formation of an Esports major and a varsity Esports team. The ribbon was cut on Friday March 31st after remarks from President Andy Armacost, Professor Sandra Moritz, Provost Eric Link, Varsity Esports athlete Ethan Taylor, and Esports Head Coach Ryan Kraus. Once the ribbon was cut and the festivities commenced, Coach Kraus led the spectators to the new home of the Esports team for tours.  

The new Esports facility is state of the art with multiple practice spaces complete with plush black gaming chairs and shining new computers. Besides classrooms and competition spaces, there is also a lounge area with a big screen tv and a couch for Esports athletes that play Nintendo Switch. The area is also used to re-watch old matches and backs up against the broadcasting studio, which is filled to the brim with state-of-the-art broadcasting equipment, including monitors on the reporting desk to provide live coverage. There is also a nutrition center and a minifridge filled with Gatorade and other refreshments for members of the Esports team. This facility was referred to by President Armacost as a new “home” for the Esports team and that is what it feels like. Walking through, while the aesthetic was decidedly sleek and technological, it still felt like a place where a community could be fostered.  

Esports is a growing industry as Provost Link pointed out multiple times in his opening speech. Video games have always been popular and so have monetizing competitions over prowess at them. While it is still difficult for some people more acquainted with traditional sports to grasp the emergence of Esports as athletics, video games require a tremendous amount of hand eye coordination and many Esports athletes have devoted time and passion into the video games they play. Finding a career as a professional in Esports is becoming increasingly viable and some parents have even opted to provide their Esports inclined children with Fortnite tutors akin to private pitching or batting lessons.  

Professor Mortiz talked about this in her opening remarks when it came to her son, “my Mom was visiting, and she said, ‘You want to talk with him about what he’s passionate about so that he can find something in college,’ and I said to her, ‘Mom, we figured out what he’s passionate about; it’s video games.”  

Varsity Esports athlete, Ethan Taylor, also touched on this in his speech before the ribbon cutting, discussing how he turned playing video games with his family into being a student athlete while also expressing excitement at having this new facility as opposed to a closet in the Hyslop.  

The Varsity Esports team and the new facilities have lofty ambitions. While their trophy case already has two large testaments to the team’s success, there is still room to be filled. This facility and the Esports major aim to distinguish UND as a top institution for those interested in the program to attend. The team also aims to find a fanbase in the student body, the broadcast studio is part of this. The team plans to stream every match on Twitch for UND fans to watch live. Hopefully, these measures will increase the interest in Esports on campus.  


Maeve Hushman is a Dakota Student Sports Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected]