Stewart’s Shops/Dake Family awards PSC $100,000 for esports lab

Oct 21, 2019 | News

Stewart’s Shops/Dake Family has awarded Paul Smith’s College a $100,000 gift to fund the creation of an on-campus training and competition space for esports, featuring state-of-the-art gaming equipment and spectator seating.

The Stewart’s Shops/Dake Family Esports Lab will serve as home field for the college’s esports club, which quickly brought on 70 members since its formation this past spring. On-campus tournaments, as well as the anticipated annual Stewart’s Shops/Dake Family Rising Stars competition for high school age students, will be hosted in the space.

“Stewart’s and the Dake Family are committed to giving back to all our shops’ communities. We are excited to support this innovative, popular program, which will be an effective recruitment tool at Paul Smith’s College,” said Susan Law Dake, president of Stewart’s Foundation.

Stewart’s Shops/Dake Family has been a Paul Smith’s donor at various levels since 1995, supporting student scholarships, the draft horse program, forestry and environmental education, and the VIC. This $100,000 gift is the largest made to the college and will play a vital role in student athletes’ involvement in this increasingly popular and competitive sport.

Paul Smith’s College is a registered member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), which announced this September that its esports membership more than doubled in size to 57 colleges. The college will field teams for Overwatch, League of Legends, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Rocket League, Fortnite, FIFA 2019 and Madden 2019.

Paul Smith’s is anticipated to host an esports tournament as part of the 2020 Empire State Winter Games, following on the heels of the successful inaugural event during the 2019 ESWG. This year’s tournament will mark the ECAC mid-season finals.

Globally, esports participation and viewership is surging. Esports will appear as an Olympics-sanctioned event in the lead-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and demonstration event in the 2024 games. According to research firm Newzoo, with an audience size of 450 million and growing, the esports market is expected to generate $1.1 billion by the end of this year and $1.8 billion in 2022.

“The astounding popularity of esports is one of the most important trends in athletics today,” said Paul Smith’s College President Cathy Dove. “Winning at these highly competitive games requires an impressive combination of skills, endurance, and teamwork. Paul Smith’s College is delighted to offer this opportunity to our students and take a leadership role in raising the profile of esports throughout the region.”

The college’s emphasis on esports falls within a broader emphasis on student athletes. Paul Smith’s launched a women’s ice hockey team in 2018 and is embarking on development of a world-class Nordic ski center at the Paul Smith’s College VIC. The athletic strategy is informed by an Advisory Committee for Olympic Sports, a select group of men and women whose experiences as Olympians represent a combined record of 17 Winter Olympic Games appearances and six medal wins.

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