University News

WIU Digital Rec Center to Open in Fall 2021

April 7, 2021


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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- In 2021, the global eSports market was valued at just over $1.08 billion and it's estimated the global eSports market revenue will reach almost $1.62 billion by 2024. As competitive video games continue to integrate into popular culture, Western Illinois University is stepping into the game – literally – with its new Digital Rec Center (DiRC), set to open in Fall 2021.

The DiRC will be housed in the former Chapman's Bookstore, on Adams Street, across from Sherman Hall and next door to ISS. The WIU Foundation purchased the building in 2019, and WIU Auxiliary Services (University Housing and Dining Services, Campus Recreation and the University Union) have funded the renovation, which is currently under construction, which is being led by WIU Facilities Management. University Technology (uTech) is assisting with equipment purchases, and will assist in the management of the facility.

"Providing opportunities for our students, in and out of the classroom, is crucial for our students' success. The field of eSports has an enormous following and it's growing every day. Having this new Digital Recreation Center on our Macomb campus that gives our students another recreational outlet, as well as competition space they can be proud of, provides yet another opportunity for our current and prospective students," said WIU President Guiyou Huang. "Thank you to the WIU Foundation for funding this initiative, and to our facilities and student services staff, along with uTech, for making this a reality."

The Macomb center will house WIU-Macomb's eSports Team, through Campus Recreation, and provide competitive gaming opportunities (League of Legends, Fortnite, etc.), console gaming, a virtual reality station and more. In addition, the lower level will serve as a "black box" space, which other student organizations can use for programming and activities.

"I am incredibly excited to have an eSports arena on our campus. Having its own location will help to really give WIU its own image and also provides a whole new place where students can spend their time," said Ben Hironimus-Wendt, acting president of Western Electronic Gaming Association (WEGA). "This will give students already looking into eSport competitions a way to compete on equal grounds with a computer that rivals my own in performance. This is the right move for the future of competitive Leathernecks, and the right move for WIU."

WEGA, which was founded in Fall 2019, meets on Tuesdays from 6-10 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center Colgate Room. For more information, contact Hironimus-Wendt at BA-Hironimus-Wendt@wiu.edu.

In addition to the Macomb DiRC, the WIU-Quad Cities eSports Club will receive equipment upgrades at the QC campus. In May 2020, the WIU-QC eSports Club won the Good Game (GG) League championship. For more information about the WIU-QC eSports Club, email Curtis Williams at CM-Williams11@wiu.edu.


Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations