Cricket Carlson, left, talks with a vendor at the 2019 eSports and Gaming Summit held at UAF. Carlson is now the teacher of the School of Management’s “Intro to eSports” course, which looks at the business side of the activity. News-Miner Photo

Competitive eSports has been a rising trend for the past decade. In 2020, a year in which everyone spent a great deal of time confined to their homes, eSports rose even higher.

Now, competitive eSports has made its way to Fairbanks.

The University of Alaska at Fairbanks has announced the virtual grand opening of the Alaska Esports Center. The plan for the center is to host the UAF eSports team as they join 240 other universities currently hosting team eSports programs.

UAF partnered with GCI on April 6th to present the virtual grand opening of the center on the UAF YouTube channel. The video is just over 22 minutes in length and begins with UAF Chancellor Dan White speaking to viewers.

“Thank you to GCI, our lead sponsor,” White says early in the video. “Through their generous, multi-year gift, GCI has made our vision of creating the first eSports center in Alaska a reality. I want to thank the UAF Alumni Association for their $50,000 gift as well as the UAF School of Management, OIT, and Ecampus for their gifts and support of eSports at UAF.”

As White said, the Alaska Esports Center is the first eSports center in all of Alaska. In addition to the 240 schools that host eSports teams, White says there are over 1,350 schools that participate in eSports tournaments annually. White says the goal of the eSports facility helps with UAF’s larger goal of diversifying student engagement and encouraging greater enrollment.

“With a focus on diversity and inclusion the Alaska Esports program will provide opportunities for UAF students to engage in collaboration, cooperation, but also competition,” White says in the video. “We’re grateful for our partnership with GCI on this important initiative and look forward to continuing to realize our shared vision for eSports in Alaska.”

To learn more about the Alaska Esports Center, visit the UAF YouTube page to watch the whole video.

Contact sports reporter Hart Pisani at 459-7530 or follow him at