The University of Akron is diving deeper into the world of esports.
On Friday, the Summit County college is opening three brand new facilities dedicated to their esports varsity and club teams.
Together the three spaces total more than 5,000 square feet, the largest amount of esports space of any university in the world.
"By creating these physical spaces, where they [students] can get to meet each other and share their experiences around their favorite game, we think it’s going to contribute to a significant campus culture of mastery, pursuit of excellence in any discipline," director of the program, Michael Fay, said.
The facilities, which have new PCs, gaming chairs, a lightning fast network and an updated HVAC system, cost about $750,000 in total. Fay said part of the money came from sponsors.
One of the spaces is housed in the honors college, another in the Student Union and the third is housed next to Infocision Stadium, reserved only for the university's esports varsity team.
Any student can use the consoles in the Student Union.
The team is made up of 44 student players, five student coaches, four student team managers and other coaching staff provided by the university. Akron is now one of the first 50 universities in the country to officially roll out varsity teams.
“It doesn't have as much visibility as your conventional sports would, but now it’s starting to get that mainstream popularity, filling arenas and stadiums with people who are interested in seeing the best compete in the games they play every day," Fay said.
Tim Inzitari is a sophomore and a computer science major. He's on the varsity team who plays Hearthstone.
Inzitari said the esports program and facilities on campus have changed his entire college experience.
"Before this esports program I knew of four people on the campus who played Heartstone. Now I know about 30. So, just building those friendships and communities has been really important. I've met people that I'm probably going to be friends with for a while," he said.
Inzitari said he believes because of his experience with Hearthstone he was able to land two interviews for an internship with top companies in northeast Ohio.
"This is helping me facilitate the core needs for my field," he said.
Inzitari believes the future of esports is Akron.
"We're in it. This facility, that's why. Akron, Ohio, " he said.
The facilities are opening at 2 p.m. The university will have festivities, prizes and games until 5 p.m.