On the campus of Full Sail, there’s an air of excitement that seemingly came out of nowhere.
While folks behind the scenes knew what was going on in Building 2 — which housed sound stages used by the Film Production program — others were left wondering, “What’s happening?”
The question was answered Oct. 10, when the university announced that it is building a new, $6 million esports facility that will be the home of the Armada — Full Sail’s Esports team.
“‘The Fortress’ is going to be the largest esports arena on any university or college campus in the country,” said Bennett Newsome, who works at the university as a student liaison and esports strategist. “It’s going to be about 11,200 square feet. This is a big deal, not only for our students, but I think for Orlando and Winter Park, just because the type of events that are going to be coming here.
“It’s in support of our team — Armada — and that is going to be home base for us,” he said. “But outside of that, this is going to be something that we’re going to be having a lot of events at. And it’s not going to be all Full Sail stuff; hopefully, some industry events will start coming down here.”
The arena will be able to hold 500 people for live gaming competitions and tournaments, and feature top-of-the-line technology to fully immerse players and observers into the experience.
‘The Fortress’ is going to be the largest esports arena on any university or college campus in the country.
- Bennett Newsome
Large screens synced to players’ computers will give fans the ability to watch live gameplay, and a halo-shaped video aboard hanging above the players’ gaming station will display stats and live video.
The members of the Armada are ready to make “The Fortress” their home — although they will have to wait until early 2019.
“They are very surprised — they didn’t know that this was something that was coming,” Newsome said. “We’ve been keeping it very secretive, but now that it’s out, the student reaction has been pretty incredible. I had a student say, ‘Well I have to come back for another degree now, because I’m going to be graduating and I want to take part of this.’ It’s pretty exciting when you talk with the students about everything.”
Along with the arena, the school is retrofitting a classroom to act as the team’s training area — where they can better work on gaming on both the individual and team levels.
Team bonding isn’t the only thing that the administration is hoping the arena helps build. Although Full Sail is a unique school that offers up programs and tech that most schools don’t, there’s always been one thing lacking: school spirit.
This is where the Armada — the school’s only sports team — and their new home come into play.
By offering a fully immersive experience, more fans and students will have the chance to experience big-time gaming.
“Having a collegiate level team — varsity and junior-varsity team — that brings a whole new world to our campus, and already adds to a really unique and exciting college experience for our students,” Newsome said. “But also ... being able to go out and go to a game and sit in a world-class venue like ‘The Fortress’ and just really take it all in … a lot of students are really anticipating the opening.”