Canada’s first varsity esports program will soon have a new home in a state-of-the-art facility at St. Clair College.
A Destination College for Aspiring Students who Game
The esports facility at the school’s South Campus in Windsor, Ont., will be the largest publicly accessible facility of its kind at over 15,000 square feet, setting the bar for varsity esports in North America and further cementing St. Clair as a destination college for aspiring students, gamers and esports enthusiasts.
This new esports facility really is the last piece of the puzzle for us. We have top-tier academic, varsity and club esports programs but now they will be able to intermingle under one roof allowing for an unparalleled degree of synergy.
In addition to being the new home for the St. Clair Saints varsity esports team, the facility will also feature a classroom and broadcast studio for the Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship Academic Program, an open gaming lab and console lounge, and a large competition stage complete with large display screens around the facility to catch all of the action. Along with serving as a premiere destination for gaming competitions, the space will also host a variety of other events such as summer camps and viewing parties.
The combination of academics and varsity esports has been a game-changer for St. Clair. The varsity program has been able to provide students with work-integrated learning opportunities through its teams and current facilities. The new building will not only expand on those opportunities but improve on them by allowing students to integrate their knowledge gained throughout the program in the planning, development, and execution of esports events.
Together, the varsity team, student club and academic program form a connected esports trinity at St. Clair College. Varsity provides a competitive atmosphere in addition to producing volunteer opportunities for students looking to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to broaden their skills in commentary, broadcast production, coaching, team management and marketing. The academic program helps fuel the club and forms the majority of its members. The club then is able to help cultivate future talent for the varsity roster through club teams while also hosting events to engage the entire St. Clair College community and beyond.
You will see students from the academic program managing and assisting varsity teams for experiential learning, students in the club gathering for socialization through esports in tournaments administered by esports event management students and varsity players competing in front of a crowd while broadcast students are in the studio streaming to Twitch.
Engineering Harmonics was selected to consult and design the AV, broadcast/streaming and theatrical lighting for the teaching spaces as well the esports arena serving the Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship Academic Program. EH also designed AV for the classrooms and meeting rooms serving the Zekelman Centre of Business and Information Technology.
The exercise was interesting, combining our experience across pro sports, higher education and performing arts to develop systems that meet pedagogical and entertainment needs for esports as it quickly unfolds said Gary Tibshirani Project Director and Partner at EH.
The new systems navigate multifaceted Esports requirements including multichannel intercom, production video capture and switching, audio matrixing, local video display and sound reproduction, control room production support, event capture and streaming to YouTube and Twitch. The results are systems offering professional quality within a budget conscious deployment utilizing platforms and functionality positioned as a launching pad for the next level of SCC programs.
NDI encoded video over the SCC network was selected for the video production suite. The Newtek NDI solution includes many integrated broadcast system assets, which are typically add ons, providing full function broadcast/streaming capability says Andrew Kozak, Senior Consultant and Partner at EH. Raising the bar for education funded Esports programs can be challenging due to the common trends of utilizing freeware and laptops for steaming tournaments and supporting accredited Esports programs. Finding that sweet spot between Broadcasting and typical Streaming systems was the biggest challenge says Kozak.
Construction is scheduled for completion Q1 2022 for classrooms and Q3 2022 for Esports facilities. It is part of a $23-million expansion at the school’s Windsor campus.
Esports facility features include:
- 64 gaming PCs
- Dedicated training facilities for varsity teams
- 6v6 competition stage
- Esports classroom featuring broadcast studio and the latest industry equipment
- 3 dedicated VR spaces connected to the broadcast studio
- 5 soundproof streaming rooms
- Console gaming lounge featuring 8 stations for drop-in and play
EH collaborated with GlosAssociates Architects and Engineers and AV Systems Integrator Applied Electronics Limited.
We retained Engineering Harmonics because we respect them and we respect the quality of their work—both the results they had obtained on their previous projects and the process they employed in achieving those results.
Principal, Sound Space Vision
When I first went into the Rogers Centre, I was surprised at just how good the house system sounded.
Cirque du Soleil, Sound Designer for the 2015 Pan Am Games Opening Ceremony
We have some very traditional teachers in our program who literally could not imagine how they were going to be able to teach without a blackboard and chalk. If we hadn’t had Andrew Kozak on board we never would have been able to get our teachers to understand how they can teach better with this technology.
Policy and Planning Officer, Dean’s Office, Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine
Within an hour they knew where my knowledge stopped and where theirs had to start — and they were very, very gracious about it, even though they play on the world stage. They brought world-class knowledge and home-town service to the project.