Pictured from left at the event announcing Town & Country FCU’s $750,000 contribution as the founding sponsor of the University of Southern Maine’s new Esports program that includes a new state-of-the-art Esports Arena on the Gorham campus are: Ainsley Wallace, president of the USM Foundation, Town & Country’s Michael Jackson, SVP and chief Innovation Office, Jon Paradise, SVP of Communications, Marketing and Community Outreach, Josh Fifield, vice chair of the credit union’s board, and Dr. Jacqueline Edmondson, president of USM. As part of the 10-year agreement and partnership, the new arena will be called the Collab: Esports Arena by Town & Country. Courtesy photo/Michael Kmack, USM

GORHAM — The University of Southern Maine will be building an Esports arena its Gorham campus thanks to a $750,000 gift from Town & Country Federal Credit Union to the USM Foundation.

Town & Country, Maine’s second-largest credit union with 40,000 members, will be the founding sponsor of the popular Esports program, which is now the largest club sport at USM and the largest collegiate Esports program in Maine, according to a statement from the credit unin.

Students, faculty, and staff gathered at the Brooks Student Center on the USM Gorham campus, site of the new Esports arena, which will be ready for action in fall 2024. Speakers talked about the positive impacts of the arena, including its ability to provide equitable access to a state-of-the-art facility for USM’s talented players, who just celebrated a highly successful season of intercollegiate Esports competition. The new arena is also expected to be a recruitment driver for USM.

As part of the 10-year agreement, the new facility will be named the Collab: Esports Arena by Town & Country. Collab is a soon-to-be announced endeavor from Town & Country focused on facilitating collaboration and bringing people and organizations together to build stronger communities, both socially and economically.

One of the fastest-growing sports on college campuses across the country, Esports (short for electronic sports) is a form of organized, multiplayer video game competition. Like traditional sports, Esports involves teams competing in conference tournaments, such as the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) competitions.

“We are deeply grateful to Town & Country for championing Esports at USM and understanding the value and importance of an Esports arena on campus, as well as the benefit to the community at-large,” said USM President Dr. Jacqueline Edmondson. “Because of their incredible generosity, foresight and vision, the new Collab: Esports Arena by Town & Country at USM will soon bring students together to build the strong social connections that help people thrive. We know that prospective USM students are going to love this, too.”


President and CEO of Town & Country Federal Credit Union David Libby said such a significant investment in USM’s Esports program “provides a unique opportunity for our organization to collaborate with the University of Southern Maine. This partnership aligns with our goals that include supporting higher education by facilitating new and innovative hands-on learning and engagement for current and future students. With the incredible success of the Esports team and program at the University of Southern Maine last semester, the timing of this announcement builds upon that momentum and represents an investment into the program that will further position it as a leader in Esports in the state and beyond.”

An Esports arena is a large, open, gaming-ready space where students can gather in person to play, watch, and livestream together. The Town & Country gift will support the technology, equipment and infrastructure buildout required for Esports, which typically includes computers, gaming consoles, and furniture for gaming stations, as well as internet and networking capabilities and HVAC system upgrades. Collab: Esports Arena by Town & Country will also include a broadcast area for student commentators during livestreamed competitions.

Overseen by USM’s Office of Student Affairs, the new facility will enable USM to host state and regional competitions and attract potential students from around the region to campus. Other opportunities include collaboration with USM’s new academic Minor in Esports Management at the School of Business. The first academic course with Esports content will be offered this spring with a focus on the legal aspects and implications for Esports managers.

The activity took off at USM with the formation of the University’s first Esports Club in January 2023. Despite the lack of an Esports arena on campus, participation in the club nearly doubled in less than a year. Today, over 170 students are active program members, including 70 who take part in ECAC competitions in 15 different games. Esports is the largest club sport at the university.

This fall, the USM Esports team captured second place in the ECAC League of Legends championship match and established the nascent program as a force to be reckoned with, according to the credit union. In spring 2023, two teams made the quarter finals, but neither advanced beyond that round. This past season, three teams made the playoffs in three different games, and two competed in the finals. Additionally, 26 members of the team were named ECAC Academic Honorees.

Commenting on the team’s success, Michael Brown, student leader and chair of the USM Esports Executive Committee, said, “Our players are consistently winning more than their share of individual awards. That really says something about our program here at USM.”


“Our Esports community is thrilled to have an arena on USM’s Gorham campus, Katriana Thebarge, USM’s coordinator of Recreation, said. A facility like this will help erase some of the barriers to play for students who” don’t own the most up-to-date equipment or have access to space on campus to compete. An arena will get gamers out of their dorm rooms for fun, in-person activities and competition.”

“Town & Country has a long history of innovation and developing collaborative partnerships that are impactful and sustainable,” Libby said. “We are proud to play a critical role in helping USM develop the preeminent Esports facility and program in Maine. The new Esports arena will help level the playing field by giving all students access to the latest equipment and a positive gaming environment, which will help this popular club sport grow in an equitable way. This is the beginning of a new chapter in the connection between Town & Country and the University of Southern Maine.”

As the Founding Sponsor of the USM Esports Program, Town & Country will serve as a special innovation advisor to USM’s student-led Esports Advisory Committee. They will also receive recognition on team uniforms, at regional and state competitions, and in future Esports podcasts. Town & Country is consulting with SMRT Architects and Engineers, who are helping with the schematic design phase of the project. Collab: Esports Arena by Town & Country is expected to open officially in the fall of 2024.

Learn more about USM’s Esports program on their website at: https://usm.maine.edu/recreation/esports-program/

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