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Shawnee State University plans new esports arena

Project to unite technology and community

Shawnee State University is gearing up to launch its revolutionary esports arena, set to become a nucleus of innovation and collaboration on campus. With two enticing location options on the table, the anticipation is palpable as the university prepares to unveil this cutting-edge facility by November 2024, just in time to coincide with the highly anticipated Shawnee Gaming Conference.   

As Shawnee State embarks on its ambitious five-year athletics plan, the new esports arena stands as a cornerstone of the university’s vision for the future. With its state-of-the-art facilities and immersive gaming environment, the arena promises to be a hub of activity and innovation, attracting students, faculty and visitors alike. “The new arena is recognition of how important esports and our gaming program are to our university,” former athletics director Jeff Hamilton said.   

As the university weighs its options for the arena’s location, two compelling choices have emerged, each with its own unique advantages. The first option is the site of the old university bookstore, nestled in the heart of campus and brimming with potential. This central location offers easy access to students and visitors, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie around competitive gaming.   

However, there are concerns for this option considering that the old university bookstore is currently the hub for the Student Government Association (SGA), which is one of the few designated student-centered spaces on campus. 

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 “It is a great situation to have, that our programs are thriving to the point that we are seeking out additional spaces, but it is an issue, said Marlita Cadogan, interim director for student life. “A good problem to have, but still an issue. We don’t want to ensure the success of one program at the expense of student clubs or spaces.”   

According to Marlita Cadogan, contingency plans for the SGA if its current home is chosen could include moving to Hatcher Hall, located across the street from the main campus. She also listed the teacher education building as a possible, viable option for a new designated student-centered space.   

On the other hand, the second site option for the esports arena involves situating it within the Kricker Innovation Hub, a visionary facility dedicated to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in downtown Portsmouth. By integrating the arena with this dynamic hub of creativity, Shawnee State aims to extend its influence beyond campus borders, bridging the gap between academia and the wider community.

Current athletic director Gerald Cadogan seems to lean towards taking the esports arena to the Kricker Innovation Hub.

“Recruit. Retain. Win,” Gerald Cadogan said of his mission and the purpose of an athletics program. “I am excited about the opportunities that the esports arena will bring, not only for student athletes on campus, but also for the community of Portsmouth as a whole.”

Esports is an incredibly strong program in the athletic department, and this arena is not only to house esports players but also to accommodate spectators and allow spectators to view multiple esports at a time. The arena will also provide a space to invite local community members, further developing downtown Portsmouth.  

Regardless of its location, the new esports arena is expected to be operational by November 2024, coinciding with the Shawnee Gaming Conference, a highly anticipated event that brings together gaming enthusiasts from across the region. With its cutting-edge facilities and immersive gaming experience, the arena promises to be a highlight of the conference, showcasing Shawnee State’s commitment to innovation and excellence in gaming and technology.   

Moving the esports arena to either the old university bookstore site or the Kricker Innovation Hub also represents a strategic move for Shawnee State University in combating the inherent insulation of technology and knowledge often confined to the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) on campus. The ATC, while serving as a hub for technological innovation and academic excellence, can sometimes unintentionally foster a sense of exclusivity, with technology and knowledge being concentrated within its walls. By decentralizing technology resources and spreading them across different locations on campus, Shawnee State aims to democratize access to technology and promote interdisciplinary collaboration.   

If the esports arena were to be situated at the old university bookstore site, it would bring gaming and technology into the heart of campus life, making it more accessible to students from all disciplines. This move would not only break down barriers between different academic departments but also foster a culture of innovation and collaboration among students and faculty from diverse backgrounds.   

On the other hand, housing the arena within the Kricker Innovation Hub would extend the reach of technology beyond campus borders and into downtown Portsmouth. By integrating gaming and technology with entrepreneurship and innovation, Shawnee State can leverage the resources and expertise of the wider community, enriching the educational experience for students and creating new opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange.   

Ultimately, regardless of its location, the new esports arena represents a step towards breaking down the barriers between technology and knowledge, fostering a culture of openness, collaboration and innovation at Shawnee State University. By embracing new spaces and forging new connections, Shawnee State aims to empower its students and faculty to harness the power of technology to drive positive change in the world.  

As the university prepares to make its decision, excitement and anticipation are building among students, faculty and the wider community. Whether nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of campus life or integrated within the vibrant ecosystem of the Kricker Innovation Hub, the new esports arena represents a bold step towards a future where technology, innovation and community converge.   

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About the Contributor
Ian Hillman
Ian Hillman, Staff Reporter
Ian Hillman is a 25-year-old sophomore at Shawnee State University. Originally from the state of Washington, he moved to Ohio a few years ago after traveling the world with his family. Ian is majoring in English and humanities with a concentration in communications with the hopes of becoming a lawyer in the future. He is also minoring in linguistics.  Ian has had an unusual upbringing compared to most 25-year-olds. He has lived in three continents, four countries and five states due to his parents’ occupations. At 9 years old, he moved from Washington to Virginia to Louisiana. Just a couple months after this, he moved to Abu Dhabi and then onto England. Due to his traveling, education became a difficult routine to establish. After being stuck in his changing life for two years, Ian moved back to the U.S. with his older brother and obtained his GED. Once COVID-19 hit, his parents moved to Ohio and both he and his mother enrolled at SSU. Ian currently lives in Piketon, Ohio.   Ian believes that moving so many times has had more positive impacts than negative ones on his life. He has been able to create life-long friendships with people who have become family to him. His personality has thrived in culturally rich environments. "There’s something about being with all different cultures, that really lets you be you at a very early age," Ian said. Due to this exposure, he has evolved into an adaptable, conversational and flamboyant person.   As a result of moving for most of his life, Ian finds it difficult to stay in the same place for very long. Once he completes his undergraduate degree, he plans to attend law school. He has considered attending Ohio State University, but also plays with the idea of moving back to where it all started and applying to the University of Washington. One day, Ian sees himself living in Nashville, Tenn., as a professional litigator focusing on copyright law in the music industry.

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