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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas+A%26M+Esports+members+at+the+esports+lounge+at+Legends+Event+Center+in+Bryan.+Photo+provided+by+Alex+DeLape.
Texas A&M Esports members at the esports lounge at Legends Event Center in Bryan. Photo provided by Alex DeLape.

Texas A&M has been working behind the scenes to acquire the former Macy’s at Post Oak Mall for an esports campus conversion. Now, the Texas A&M Esports club is one step closer to having an athletic facility to call its own.

Texas A&M Esports, or AME, is a student organization for casual and competitive gaming enthusiasts that boasts almost 2,800 members. Despite being one of the largest clubs on campus, AME has no dedicated meeting space, AME President and sport management senior Alex DeLape said.

“Anytime we do any sort of meetings, it’s in whatever we can book,” DeLape said.

In August 2022, the City of College Station acquired the vacant Macy’s at Post Oak for over $7 million. Months later, AME announced A&M entered negotiations with College Station to lease the space for the esports campus, which would be overseen by the A&M School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts.

A&M has been quiet since the announcement, but the project is slowly moving forward.

On Feb. 8, bidders and prospective contractors met with A&M staff to view former Macy’s space before the project proceeds. The meeting was held to attract qualified contractors for the campus. A&M will complete its construction proposal for the space by Feb. 24.

During the meeting, interim dean of the A&M School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts Tim McLaughlin spoke to KBTX at Post Oak Mall. McLaughlin said the esports facility would be used to host tournaments but will also include educational spaces for classrooms.

“We’ve had the club team for a while,” McLaughlin said to KBTX. “Getting facilities is the next step, and this facility, if realized, will be something completely significant for the community and the university … we would have a beautiful facility, state of the art, setting the top of what’s expected at the collegiate level and something that contributes to the community.”

The facility is expected to house over 400 desktop gaming stations, along with offering retail areas for food, clothing and computer hardware.

Courtesy photo of Texas A&M Esports President Alex DeLape.

DeLape said while the news surrounding the facility is exciting, many AME members are taking it with a grain of salt. However, DeLape said adding the facility could be a step in the right direction to address AME’s growing needs.

Compared to other varsity sports, esports teams compete against other schools, regardless of division assignments or classifications. While schools can enter multiple teams or “rosters” for competitions, AME can’t match the resources other teams offer, DeLape said. Aggie esports athletes have to rely on their own resources and student volunteer coaches.

“When it comes to the teams we’re going up against, [they have] dedicated equipment, dedicated internet connections and most of them are even on scholarships,” DeLape said. “They’ll have a coach that is paid to be there.”

AME receives no university financial support, and currently, AME cannot offer scholarships or dedicated resources to any esports athletes due to a lack of funding. DeLape said Aggies have to pay to be a part of AME, which can cause talented esports athletes to accept admission offers from other colleges.

DeLape said AME would be grateful if it were even given a room with just 10 computers for its members.

While he said the lack of a dedicated space is the biggest factor limiting AME’s growth, DeLape said one of the next big steps to expand AME would be securing scholarships for esports athletes.

Texas A&M Esports athletes pose at Kyle Field in May 2023. Photo provided by Alex DeLape.

In the meantime, DeLape said AME is building a relationship with Legends Event Center in Bryan, which has an esports and gaming lounge. Although it helps to have the space occasionally, DeLape said not all members have reliable off-campus transportation.

The esports facility may have public access areas for non-esport athletes, however, DeLape said he hopes AME will have dedicated training spaces for its competitive teams or roster members.

When A&M asked what specifications the esports campus would require to meet students’ needs, AME surveyed current and former members. DeLape said many Aggies are looking for a consistent space to practice for competitions or to create content, such as streaming.

DeLape said AME will have to wait and see if the facility will help level the playing field.

 

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