USF hopes new esports lab brings students together

Esports has a big interest and big money worldwide, meaning new rivalries in college sports may be on the screen and not on the field.

"Even before the pandemic 100,000 people were going to events around the world championships of League of Legends, which is a video game," explained Michelle Harrolle of the USF Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program. 

Now USF is building the new Esports Living Lab, a physical space with 40 computers and endless virtual space.

"Think of all the fans that come out to Raymond James on Saturday going to this space to support some of our competitive teams," commented Antonio Gonzalez of USF Sports Programs. "To other students, it’s going to be an academic space, a place where students can go to learn."

USF just ranked third in the nation for its graduate sports and entertainment management program. Many of the jobs are in esports, according to Harrolle.

"Whether that be on the business, the marketing, the game development, the branding, the partnerships, the analytics, or player development," she stated.

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USF now offers classes in the business of esports. It follows St. Leo University and Florida Southern College which established esports teams in recent years. 

All USF students on all three campuses will get free access the Esports Living Lab. Gonzalez hopes it will bring students together.

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"If you want to enjoy and get the most out of these games now, it’s all built around competing with other people," he explained. 

The Esports Living Lab is tentatively scheduled to open next spring inside the Recreation and Wellness Center.


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