Campus Renovations

WIU to Open Digital Rec Center This Fall

Western Illinois University, located in Macomb, Ill., is set to debut its Digital Rec Center (DiRC) in fall 2021. The center will play home to the university’s eSports team and offer students a space for competitive gaming, console gaming, a virtual reality station, and more. The WIU Foundation purchased the space, formerly Chapman’s Bookstore, in 2019, and renovations have been led by WIU Facilities Management and funded by WIU Auxiliary Services.

“Providing opportunities for our students, in and out of the classroom, is crucial for our students’ success,” said WIU President Guiyou Huang. “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.”

The eSports market was valued at about $1.08 billion this year, and revenue is on track to reach $1.62 billion by 2024. The DiRC plans to offer competitive gaming opportunities for games like League of Legends and Fortnite, and it will have a “black box” area for WIU student organizations to use for activities and programs.

“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 WIU student organization 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.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].