Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

E-sports organization selects Harrisburg as host city for 2019 convention

HU President Eric Darr speaks during today’s press conference announcing the 2019 NACE convention.

First, Harrisburg got an e-sports team; now it’s getting an e-sports convention.

This summer, the city will host the 2019 National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) Conference, a three-day gathering that will attract 300 to 400 university-level administrators, directors, coaches and others associated with the quickly growing field of e-sports.

At a press conference today at Whitaker Center, NACE Executive Director Michael Brooks said that Harrisburg was selected from more than 100 applicants to be the host city.

“Harrisburg University’s exceptional e-sports program and state-of-the-art facilities made Harrisburg a natural fit,” he said. “The city and surrounding community have been unwavering in their support of e-sports with HU really leading the charge.”

The conference, which takes place, July 17-19, will tackle a variety of subject areas related to e-sports, such as facilities, capabilities, scholarships and legislation, Brooks said. Events will take place primarily at Harrisburg University and at Whitaker Center, which houses the practice and competition areas for HU’s e-sports team, the Storm.

“You’re seeing Harrisburg emerge as a hub for e-sports,” said HU President Eric Darr. “This doesn’t happen without community support and community engagement.”

At 130,000 square feet in total, HU and Whitaker Center have the largest e-sports venue in North America, said Ted Black, Whitaker Center’s executive director.

“This facility doesn’t exist anywhere else in North America,” he said

Mayor Eric Papenfuse said that all the players—the city, Dauphin County, HU and Whitaker Center—worked hard to bring the convention to Harrisburg.

“They’re coming here because of our parks . . . because of our facilities, because of our restaurants,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to hosting the convention this summer.”

Last year, the convention was held in Atlanta.

At the press conference today, Darr added that HU plans to host the second annual Harrisburg University Esports Festival later this year. Last year, the inaugural HUE Fest featured a weekend of e-sports tournaments, a block party and a day of music.

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