FUSD to build esports arena at Tehipite Middle School

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FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Fresno Unified is using $1.5 million of Measure M funding to build an esports arena.

A rendering of what the design may look like provided to CBS47 by Lundberg.

It’s a space specifically designed for video game competition.

An old shop classroom will be converted into the high-tech venue.

There’s space for teams of many players, places for officials to work, and for spectators to watch.

FUSD Data Science and Software Executive Director Tami Lundberg says, “If we have a Saturday tournament all day Friday we spend coming in covering the gym floor with tarps, bringing in tables and all of the computers and monitors and equipment.”

The popularity of esports venues was soaring even before the pandemic.

Fresno state has two esports teams in the Mountain West.

Lundberg says, “Over 200 of our colleges nationwide that have esports programs. The UC system has 9 million dollars in scholarships.”

Many of the highest-paid content creators on the internet are professional gamers.

Streaming services creating a score of millionaires in recent years.

But as with other athletics, this is just the top tier.

A study last year shows the average annual earnings of a professional gamer including prizes and sponsorships is $48,000.

Lundberg says, “Career opportunities around not just gaming but coding and testing, game design, marketing.”

FUSD Vice Principal on special assignment Joe DiFilippo says, “Many times students in esports are not the traditional athletes that participate in Friday night lights. These are the students who hussle home and get on the computer and engage with their friends online.  This is an opportunity to get students on campus and get them engaged with a coach. Get them engaged with peers on campus and allow them to be able represent their school and feel a true connection.”

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