St. Mary’s University adding esports to athletic program in fall 2020

Esports arena will open this spring

SAN ANTONIO – Fitness gaming will now be a competitive sport at St. Mary’s University.

The school announced Tuesday morning that it will launch an esports program in the fall semester, one of few in San Antonio.

A new Rattler eSports arena, with amphitheater-style seating, is also in store for the college’s 12th intercollegiate sport. It’s expected to be unveiled this spring.

“This is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, so we are extremely excited about beginning a new esports program at St. Mary’s,” director of athletics Robert Coleman said in a news release.

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The program will be a part of two esports organizations: the National Association of Collegiate esports (NACE), which spans more than 150 schools, and Tespa. Esports is not sponsored by the NCAA, according to St. Mary’s.

Students will be able to compete online with students from other colleges. The team will consist of 20-25 students, and tryouts will be held annually. A search is underway for a head coach.

At other universities across San Antonio — and even the world — esports continues to pierce traditional athletics.

The University of Incarnate Word launched its esports program in the 2019-2020 school year, according to its website.

The University of Texas at San Antonio currently has a RoadRunner Gaming club, and Trinity University has the Trinity University Gaming Club.

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The global esports market was predicted to surge to $1.1 billion in 2019, up $230 million from 2018 on growth in sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales, according to Newzoo.

Several U.K. and U.S. schools have launched programs aimed at capitalizing on the booming industry’s need for skilled professionals, according to the Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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