The Canal Winchester Athletic Boosters will officially kick off a fundraising campaign March 24 to raise money for a facility that will bring the burgeoning world of competitive gaming to Canal Winchester High School.
The project is still in the planning stages, but the boosters estimate it will cost $10 million to build what they are calling a leadership training facility that will include film-viewing equipment for the district's already sanctioned sports and an amphitheater-style auditorium. While the 20,000-square-foot facility will be designed with multiple functions in mind - including use by the school's performing arts students - Musick said esports will take up a large portion of it.
Additionally, in a roughly 30 by 90 multiuse"flex" space, Canal Winchester students will be given an area to create and show off their visual arts projects, including everything from photography to painting to possibly even animation.
Canal Winchester athletics director Pat Durbin, a military veteran who has served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and completed four tours overseas, said he plans to incorporate many of the leadership tools he gained as a military officer into cultivating student athletes and leaders at the facility.
According to Durbin and Musick, the facility will be built as part of Mike Locke Stadium.
None of the project's cost is expected to come from district coffers.
"We should not be using even a dollar from the school's funds," Musick said.
Initial plans and renderings for the building were supposed to be unveiled at the March 24 information session starting at 6:30 p.m. at Eldridge and Fiske Brewing Co., 9 E. Columbus St., Lithopolis. However, that session has been postoned, and no makeup date has been set.
Musick said he believes ground will be broken within the next two to three years.
He said the project is being designed by Tony Schorr of Tony Schorr Architects Inc., the same group that designed the renovations to Canal Winchester High School.
According to Musick, the amphitheater will be equipped with an array of gaming PCs backed by a fiber internet connection.
District officials and boosters club members have begun initial fundraising and Musick said support from the community and student body has been nearly universal.
"The reality is, esports is only growing and Canal's not going to shrink, either, so this is the time we want to be fundraising," he said. "It's going to grow; it's going to snowball."
The esports training facility will be able to serve as host for competitive gaming at the high school level and provide Canal Winchester students with a dedicated space for esports.
"We recognize the fact that esports is growing fast and that a lot of our students are involved," athletics director Patrick Durbin said. "We want to be able to give them the same opportunities as students who participate in other sports."
Musick said the space would serve the CWHS esports clubs (which likely would become a sanctioned varsity sport next year), as well as any students who wish to use it, citing a correlation between student involvement in school activities and their overall academic performance.
"We believe we can dramatically and positively affect students' high school experience, while also embracing the future and the promise esports has to offer a new generation of kids," he said.
The project is supported by district officials, who believe it will create opportunities for a different segment of students.
"I think the esports movement is a great thing for students that want to participate and compete in different activities," school board vice president Matt Krueger said. "It is always great to have students find new areas of interest that challenge them, regardless of if it's reading a book, working at a job, physically playing in a sporting event or AI.
"I have already seen all of the OEM's (original email manufacturers) catering to new computer designs for this emerging market," he said. "I look forward to seeing how we can utilize the new market to help grow our students."