New Arena Unlocked For Redbird Esports!
Written by Max Martin on November 19, 2021
Photo Courtesy Redbird Esports Facebook Page
NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University approved the construction of a 5.5-million-dollar arena that will become the home of Redbird Esports next fall.
The new arena will serve as a much-needed upgrade for the program that has continued to see rapidly increasing growth throughout the last school year. The arena will boast amenities such as over 70 gaming PCs, a console station, a broadcasting room, as well as exclusive spaces for varsity teams.
David Kirk, the director of Redbird Esports, says that there is a lot to be excited about looking towards the future of the new arena and gaming as a whole at Illinois State.
“We have dedicated varsity showcase spaces in there, and that looks very similar to what anyone that knows anything about Esport competition would immediately recognize,” Kirk said. “It’s something where we have displays on the front of the desks so that we can focus on player cams, and we can also put additional graphics and gameplay footage on there. It really mirrors what you would see at professional esports events.”
Kirk hopes that some of the stylish features of the new space will attract more students and other collegiate esports programs to events hosted at the arena.
“We’ve got this big scoreboard in the center of the space; that will be fantastic to show gameplay footage, Twitch streams, different events happening in the esports scene, and we can even host watch parties there,” Kirk said. “Just the overall size of it, it is going to be one of the largest collegiate esports arenas in all North America, at right around 10,000 square feet. Having 70 plus PCs available for students, our clubs, our casual gamers, and our varsity teams is something that we are excited about.”
The new arena will feature a space that is exclusive to the varsity teams that play competitively for the university. Kirk explains that gamers in general typically play around the same time, especially collegiate gamers, and that it will be nice for varsity players to have their own practice areas.
Redbird Esports currently maintains three video games that fall under the varsity title. Kirk clarifies that varsity players receive school scholarships, staff support, coaching, travel, and anything else a traditional collegiate athlete would have access to.
“Right now, we only have three varsity titles, League of Legends, Rocket League, and Overwatch,” Kirk said. “We selected those titles initially because they’re the most popular and the most solidified within the collegiate esports space.”
All three varsity titles made a huge splash in the competitive scene in Redbird Esport’s inaugural year, each placing within the top 25% of their respective collegiate competitive scene. The League of Legends team finished fifth in the country last spring out of over 300 teams. The Overwatch team has also dominated the scene throughout the past year.
“We did have a top 20 Overwatch team last year. We utilized that success in our first year to really go out and do some serious recruiting for Overwatch. Not only do we have the number one collegiate Overwatch team in North America, but we also have the number one Overwatch team in North America that is not a professional team, having won the Overwatch Contenders League.”
The space will be home to more than just varsity players, with all Illinois State students having the opportunity to take advantage of the gaming PCs. Whether it be Minecraft or highly competitive FPS games, students will have a safe space to play with their friends with top-of-the-line equipment.
Kirk along with his graduate assistant, Jack Blahnik, look forward to the future of Redbird Esports. As the program expands, the pair look forward to throwing more high-profile events, as well as securing sponsorships with large name companies.
You can find more information on Redbird Esports on their Twitter @Redbird_Esports as well as their Twitch, RedbirdEsports.