Rowan, N3rd Street team up on esports arena, academics

NJ university receives $1 million from Philadelphia-based esports company for investment in infrastructure and programs

N3rd Street Gamers is fast becoming a powerhouse in esports infrastructure, providing gamers in the Northeast with robust facilities and big tournaments to play in.

But its latest project – a $1 million investment into Rowan University – might do more to change the esports landscape in the region than its recent gaming arenas near Philadelphia’s prominent professional stadiums.

N3rd Street is teaming up with Rowan to not only build a 7,500-foot gaming center on the Glassboro, NJ, campus, but it is also partnering with the university to develop esports gaming and academic programs.

“Esports has evolved well beyond playing games; the most important aspect for Rowan is its academic component,” Rowan President Ali A. Houshmand said in a statement. “It will offer our students hands-on training — via internships — and knowledge in a variety of fields that will prepare them to become leaders in technology, engineering, business, computer programming and even broadcasting as it applies to this emerging industry.”

Rowan says it will create curricula related to esports and also start varsity level-teams as part of the agreement. The building will feature a broadcast studio and other dual-purpose amenities. It will be modeled off existing N3rd Street Gamers esports venues in Philadelphia and Denver.

In return, Rowan has entered into an agreement to initially allocate $230,000 this academic year to purchase memberships for students to the N3rd Street Gamers network and provide them access to their gaming equipment free of charge.

“Gaming is no longer just a form of entertainment. There are legitimate careers to pursue within this industry, but the paths aren’t always clear,” said N3rd Street Gamers CEO John Fazio. “This premier esports facility will give Rowan University students and the surrounding community the opportunity to learn both technical and professional skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

N3rd Street Gamers, which helps facilitate social and competitive tournaments, made headlines recently for completing a $12 million investment to help build out and outfit esports spaces at discount retailer Five Below. It also recently helped open a dedicated area for gaming inside the Wells Fargo Center, which houses the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers.

Butler professor releases esports book

Butler University’s Ryan Rogers has written a book titled Understanding Esports: An Introduction to the Global Phenomenon that explores “the rise of the esports industry and its significance within media, culture, education, and the economy.” Rogers, an assistant professor of creative media and entertainment, has gathered contributions from 30 experts to give a general view of the esports industry. “I felt like there was really a need to understand this phenomenon and build a body of knowledge around it,” Rogers says. “Ultimately, I think it provides a broad view of the esports industry so that academics and industry professionals alike can wrap their minds around it.” The book is available on Amazon, Kindle and in major bookstores.


Alex Rink, League of Legends captain at Lackawanna College (PA): “We’ve turned into a college that people want to go to. This room was bare when we started. No computers. Nothing. No decals or anything. Everything has gotten so nice.”

Curious quote from Randolph College (VA) president Bradley W. Bateman on his school’s intention to launch esports: “While academics will always be our priority here at Randolph, we believe a well-rounded college experience requires exposure to a variety of different endeavors and activities.”

Growing and growing

RMU PENNSYLVNIA HIRES COACH: Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania has hired Richard Zapp as its inaugural esports head coach. Zapp previously worked as a career coach supporting students in their personal development at Slippery Rock University. He also has had big success as a gaming competitor and coach over the past 15 years. Zapp will have the benefit of a new esports center on campus, as well as all new equipment for the team, which has joined NACE.

DEFIANCE JOINS CONFERENCE: After competing independently last season, Defiance College in Ohio is now a member of the Great Lakes Esports Conference. The Yellow Jackets join eight other programs: Muskingum University, Lourdes University, Marietta College, University of Mount Union, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Ohio Northern University, Tiffin University, and Trine University. Under first-year coach Corey Parks, Defiance finished eighth in the nation last season in Hearthstone.

AMBITION AT BUFFALO: Among the goals of some students at the University at Buffalo is to host a massive esports tournament at the school’s football stadium against other State University of New York schools. The stadium seats a little more than 25,000. Nearly 50 students have signed on this season to the Student Association-recognized team, which previously was dubbed an Overwatch Club. The team, which competes in several different games including League of Legends, is part of college esports association TESPA.

TOP OF THE HILL: Western Kentucky’s esports program, which boasts Overwatch, League of Legends and Rocket League teams, has more than doubled since last season. One of the big benefits of being a part of a team: scholarships. All 28 of the Hilltoppers’ players and three coaches receive them. “We want everyone to know that WKU has other engaging opportunities for students who don’t quite fit the traditional routes to scholarships,” says esports adviser Robert Unseld Jr.

Information from wire services and news releases were used in this report. Chris Burt is the Esports Conference Chair and Esports Editor for University Business. 

Interested in esports? Keep up with LRP’s Academic Esports Conference.

Chris Burt
Chris Burt
Chris is a reporter and associate editor for University Business and District Administration magazines, covering the entirety of higher education and K-12 schools. Prior to coming to LRP, Chris had a distinguished career as a multifaceted editor, designer and reporter for some of the top newspapers and media outlets in the country, including the Palm Beach Post, Sun-Sentinel, Albany Times-Union and The Boston Globe. He is a graduate of Northeastern University.

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