Butler University building new esports facility

Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, is building a 7,500ft2 space dedicated to esports and technology that will be ready to welcome students back to campus in autumn 2022.

Butler first announced plans for the project in 2019—around the same time the new Esports and Gaming Center opened in Atherton Union. Pandemic restrictions put those plans on hold, but now with new renderings and a reapproved timeline, construction is about to begin.

The multi-use space housed in Butler’s Sunset Avenue parking garage will be known as the ?? Butler Esports Park. With high-performance gaming PC’s and consoles, event and coworking spaces, a cafe, office areas for partner organisations, and a studio and production room, the venue will provide a hub for the tech community while expanding on Butler’s growing presence in esports.

Dr. Frank E. Ross, Butler’s vice president for student affairs, said:

We strive to be a leader in building a culture of innovation, equity, and operational excellence that supports our students and their learning—both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Even through a challenging year due to the pandemic, Butler engaged our students, faculty, and staff through esports in meaningful ways—adding a new academic minor, and pivoting to adapt recruiting, planning, and event executions, as well as creative opportunities for community engagement, to advance our holistic vision for esports. 

The Butler Esports Park has been designed by Populous, a world-renowned architectural firm known for their sports-focused spaces—from soccer stadiums, to basketball arenas, to training centers. 

Among the gaming community, the firm may be best known for its work on the new Fusion Arena in Philadelphia, or the 100,000ft2 esports stadium in Arlington, Texas. The team now brings their expertise to designing an innovative esports facility on Butler’s campus. 

Brian Mirakian, Populous esports director for the Americas, said:

It is truly a pleasure to be on the front lines of the esports facilities movement across North America. Esports and gaming are becoming widely accessible to audiences more than ever before. By bringing together gaming, innovation, and a dynamic creator environment, we are setting the stage for a new paradigm for student life and collegiate esports. We’re tremendously excited to integrate this state-of-the-art project into the fabric of the Butler campus.

When construction is complete, Butler expects the first business tenant will be Challonge—a software as a service company for esports competition management. Challonge is owned by Logitech and led by Butler graduate Matt McIntyre ’06. 

The team is already housed at Butler’s campus on the first floor of Bill and Joanne Dugan Hall, a space they moved into earlier this year. McIntyre is excited to be back at Butler. Challonge will be creating opportunities for student engagement, community events, and more. McIntyre said:

Butler Esports Park will become the epicenter of esports in Indianapolis. It is uniquely positioned to benefit Butler’s rapidly growing esports program, and it will serve as a community asset capable of drawing major events to the city. I am personally excited to see the space play host to local and regional competitions, such as state and conference finals, as well as partner-driven global competitions, such as those we operate and broadcast under Logitech Esports Services for major game developers, publishers, and brands.