Canada’s first varsity esports program will soon have a new home in a state-of-the-art facility at St. Clair College as part of a $23 million project.
The esports facility at the school’s South Campus in Windsor, Ont., will be the largest publicly accessible facility of its kind at over 15,000 square feet, setting the bar for varsity esports in North America and further cementing St. Clair as a destination college for aspiring students, gamers and esports enthusiasts.
"This new esports facility really is the last piece of the puzzle for us. We have top-tier academic, varsity and club esports programs but now they will be able to intermingle under one roof allowing for an unparalleled degree of synergy," said Esports Director Shaun Byrne.
In addition to being the new home for the St. Clair Saints varsity esports team, the facility will also feature a classroom and broadcast studio for the Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship Academic Program, an open gaming lab and console lounge, and a large competition stage complete with big screens around the facility to catch all of the action. Along with serving as a premiere destination for gaming competitions, the space will also host a variety of other events such as summer camps, viewing parties, and more.
The combination of academics and varsity esports has been a game-changer for St. Clair. The varsity program has been able to provide students with work-integrated learning opportunities through its teams and current facilities. The new building will not only expand on those opportunities, but improve on them by allowing students to integrate their knowledge gained throughout the program in the planning, development, and execution of esports events.
"The fact that some students have already found success in their careers using the equipment currently provided is incredible. But I can only imagine how many more students will find, if not the same, but greater success with these amazing upgrades coming into the new facility," said Esports Professor David Rabinovitch.
Together, the varsity team, student club and academic program form a connected esports trinity at St. Clair College. Varsity provides a competitive atmosphere in addition to producing volunteer opportunities for students looking to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to broaden their skills in commentary, broadcast production, coaching, team management and marketing. The academic program helps fuel the club and forms the majority of its members. The club then is able to help cultivate future talent for the varsity roster through club teams while also hosting events to engage the entire St. Clair College community and beyond.
"You will see students from the academic program managing and assisting varsity teams for experiential learning, students in the club gathering for socialization through esports in tournaments administered by esports event management students and varsity players competing in front of a crowd while broadcast students are in the studio streaming to Twitch," added Byrne.
St. Clair’s varsity esports teams will compete across 7 titles in the Fall, including League of Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch, Valorant, Rocket League, Call of Duty, and Rainbow Six: Siege. The varsity program consists of over 40 student esports athletes, many of which are moving from across the country to compete and study at St. Clair College.
"To say this is a big year for us would be an understatement. Not only are we thrilled to have this phenomenal facility to play out of, but we also have top-tier players coming from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and across Ontario to bolster our rosters and take us to the next level competitively," said Assistant Esports Director Chris Funston.
Construction is scheduled to be completed by January 2022. It is part of a $23-million expansion at the school’s Windsor campus. The new Zekelman Centre of Business and Information Technology will also feature classrooms, student study areas, meeting rooms and offices for faculty. The Alumni Hall auditorium and the esports facility are the centrepieces of the new build.
Full esports facility features include:
- 64 Gaming PCs
- Dedicated training facilities for varsity teams
- 6v6 competition stage
- Esports Classroom featuring broadcast studio and the latest industry equipment
- 3 dedicated VR spaces connected directly to the broadcast studio
- 5 separate soundproof streaming rooms
- Console gaming lounge featuring 8 stations for drop-in and play
About St. Clair Saints Varsity Esports
The Saints varsity esports program, representing St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, was the first of its kind in Canada founded in 2017. Saints varsity players earn scholarships to compete in leagues against colleges and universities across North America.