St. Clair College recently unveiled its state-of-the-art esports facility, "Nexus," during the official grand opening of the renovated and newly named Don France Student Commons.
The $23 million, two-year construction project included the creation of two upper floors of classrooms for the Zekelman Schools of Business and Information Technology, the expansion of the ground floor of the Student Centre and the crown jewel, Nexus, a state-of-the-art 15,000-square-foot Esports arena and broadcasting facility for the St. Clair Saints Gaming team and home of the two-year Esports Administration and Entrepreneurship diploma program at St. Clair College.
College President Dr. Patti France described the unveiling of the state-of-the-art esports arena as the latest chapter in an unbelievable adventure during her career at St. Clair.
"Esports is a multi-billion-dollar industry with explosive growth, varied and vast career openings with the potential to attract enrolment, and global marketing opportunities for the College," President France said. "For the past half-decade of excellence in representing St. Clair, and for today's crowning achievement of opening Nexus, I extend my thanks and congratulations to the SRC, Saints Gaming, Shaun (Byrne), the faculty of the academic esports program, and all our e-athletes and coaches. As you continue to make St. Clair shine with your provincial and national showings, this state-of-the-art esports arena will set a new standard for all subsequently developed facilities of its sort in North America."
St. Clair College was the first postsecondary institution in Canada to introduce esports as a varsity team and an academic program in 2016. Like traditional athletics, Saints Gaming players earn scholarships to compete in video gaming leagues against colleges and universities worldwide. Esports Director Shaun Byrne described Nexus as a world-class facility which sets St. Clair College as the gold standard for esports programs among postsecondary schools. Nexus includes 48 gaming lounges, eight PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch pods, three Virtual Reality stations, a gaming competition stage, and a new broadcasting classroom with five breakout rooms. A ceremonial opening of Nexus to demonstrate its operational features is slated to take place on October 1st.
The Student Centre was first constructed in the mid-1990s and is owned and operated by the Student Representative Council (SRC). They designated much of the Student Centre as the Don France Student Commons in tribute to their former General Manager, Don France, and his 25 years of mentorship of student leaders and advocacy.
Current SRC General Manager Ryan Peebles described Don France as a friend, mentor, sounding board, advisor, idea-man and sometimes a father figure.
"(Don) has been all of that, and more, to 25 years of SRC board members. It's a tribute to his impact upon their lives that many of those SRC alumni have returned to the college today to share this day with him," Peebles said. "Students in general since the mid-1990s may not have known Don in that very close fashion, but they've all benefited from his dedication – not just in terms of the facilities he has developed, but more importantly for the services and programs that he created to make their college experience easier and more enjoyable, and for the advocacy he demonstrated to protect their rights."