Sports

Esports grows in Indianapolis with new Butler University park

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Nathan Duke is the manager of esports programs and facility operations for Butler Esports.

If you ask Duke, he has no doubt esports is the next big thing.

“We continue to see first-person shooter esports, sports games, different arcades and party modes, and all this different stuff that keeps people engaged and interested, and it’s not going anywhere,” Duke said.

Butler University is preparing to open its new esports park for competition in the fall, with students on campus competing against other universities all over the country just like they do in other sports, including Big East Conference play.

“When you watch the Butler Bulldogs compete against DePaul in Hinkle (Fieldhouse) it’s no different then watching them compete in here,” Duke said of the esports park.

The university announced Tuesday that the professional esports organization, Beastcoast, will be a new tenant at the esports park, just another step in a commitment to esports.

“They’re going to be living right next to us in offices so there’s a lot of collaborative opportunities we can activate with them,” Duke said.

Indianapolis’ continual investment in esports is partially in thanks to companies such as Techstars. Andrew Hippert is a senior project manager for the company that’s helping Butler Esports and others to continue to grow.

“Indianapolis is becoming a hub known for sports tech, primarily in esports now, given the commitment that Butler has made and the Pacers have made, and hopefully we can help contribute to as well,” Hippert said.

Duke says the commitment by the city to be a hub for esports is evident.

“Indianapolis specifically is making that effort to bring it here, whether it’s (Indiana) Sports Corp or the (NBA) 2K League, there are a lot of activations that are tapping into the ever-present gaming community that does clearly exist here in Indianapolis,” Duke said.

He says he doesn’t see it stopping anytime soon. “It gives us the opportunity to continue to grow and strive. There’s more events that can come to the city providing infrastructure, economic growth, job opportunities. It’s a win all the way around.”