State-of-the-art e-sports, gaming facility debuts at Whitaker Center

Whitaker Center CEO Ted Black (right) speaks during the opening of the new PNC Innovation Zone.

Downtown Harrisburg took another step towards becoming a regional hub for e-sports on Tuesday, as Whitaker Center opened a dedicated facility for video games and e-sports.

The new PNC Innovation Zone is a 7,000-square-foot facility that combines the existing, 40-foot-tall Select Medical Digital Cinema with a newly constructed, purpose-built gaming center.

Whitaker Center CEO Ted Black said that video games and e-sports help stimulate interest among young people in other, related, STEAM activities, such as coding, graphic design and computer networking, as well as help break down gender and equity barriers to technology.

“Purposeful gaming at the PNC Innovation Zone is a natural extension of our founders’ visionary leadership,” Black said.

The gaming studio portion of the project encompasses 2,000 square feet on Whitaker Center’s second floor, roughly where the box office, gift shop and coffee shop formerly were located. It includes:

  • Capacity for as many as 30 gaming stations and 12 gaming consoles
  • 10 75-inch, high-definition flat screen televisions
  • 12-foot, high-definition projection screen
  • E-sports tiered seating for spectator viewing
  • High-tech conference room

The PNC Innovation Zone will host weekly activities, including game designing, building and coding, as well as competitions. Black said that Whitaker Center will continue to develop new uses and educational applications for the facility.

GamerCityNews Innovation-Zone-2-web State-of-the-art e-sports, gaming facility debuts at Whitaker Center

Young people inside the gaming studio

Partners in the project include PNC Bank, which helped finance the facility, and Comcast, which is providing the connectivity. It’s one of the largest Comcast “Lift Zones,” which provides free Wi-Fi access in neighborhood community centers.

The project also was partially funded with a $750,000 state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant, which Whitaker Center received in 2020.

“I’m going to be even more proud to see the smiling, energetic, thriving young faces that will be coming through this area for years to come,” said Jim Hoehn, PNC’s regional president of Central Pennsylvania and a Whitaker Center board member, at the opening.

The PNC Innovation Zone is the latest gaming and e-sports facility for downtown Harrisburg. Harrisburg University’s championship e-sports team, the HU Storm, also have a state-of-the-art facility in Whitaker Center and, just last week, TheBurg reported that the region’s professional e-sports team, the Susquehanna Soniqs, soon will open the LAN Center, a community gaming facility on S. 3rd Street.

To learn more about Whitaker Center, visit their website.

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