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NIU Hoffman Estates Esports Café Grand Opening Event



Public invited to NIU Hoffman Estates Esports Café grand opening

Northern Illinois University is opening a new Esports Café at NIU Hoffman Estates that will be available to NIU students and the community. The new café is part of an effort by NIU to expand esports to build community, promote healthy gaming and support the positive social, competitive and educational aspects of video gaming.

The public is invited to celebrate the grand opening of the Esports Café on Friday, April 5, 2019, from 5 to 8 p.m. at NIU Hoffman Estates, 5555 Trillium Blvd, Hoffman Estates, IL 60192. Visitors will get a chance to play video games on the café’s new Dell gaming PCs or a selection of console systems, including Xbox, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. They’ll be able to compete against NIU Esports Club members and enjoy free food and beverages.

Community members of all ages are welcome. The event is free; attendees are asked to RSVP to

Students and staff at NIU Hoffman Estates are enthusiastic about providing a new way for the community to engage with NIU.

“I’m very excited to learn more about the Esports Café and how that can be used to enhance our conference business,” says Martha Keyes, conference services manager at NIU Hoffman Estates. “I was able to visit an esports lounge recently and saw that they host not only parties, but also team building events. That’s the audience I work with, so I’m very pleased to be able to offer this to our corporate customers to further enhance their meetings.”

Keyes and her colleague Doug Ash, academic program coordinator for NIU Hoffman Estates, are both pleased that the café will provide a safe space for young people to play video games together.

“It’s great for young people to have a space to come and practice,” Ash says. “You can play online with friends with a headset, but it’s not the same as being in the same room. The reactions you have when you’re together in the same room are more powerful than being in your living room or basement chatting with a headset on, especially for competition play.”

MBA student and NIU Esports Social Media Specialist Jimmy Allen says, “I’m extremely enthusiastic about NIU’s initiative into the world of esports, and the fact that Hoffman Estates is getting their own cafe is exciting. I’m someone who likes to play games so having it be right where I take classes is fantastic.”

Allen says he hopes the Hoffman Estates Esports Café will help to introduce esports to a new audience who don’t yet play video games and are unfamiliar with the growing esports industry.

“There are many different facets that make esports work,” he says. “It’s what goes on behind the production that is most exciting. Esports needs broadcasters, writers, camera crews, producers, etc., just like if you were going to make a tv show or movie. NIU offers classes about these topics to students who are interested.”

For experienced gamers and newcomers alike, the April 5 open house is a great way to experience the new Esports Café and try out top-of-the-line Dell gaming workstations.

“I think the esports café will be wonderful for everyone,” says Martha Keyes. “I encourage people to come and experience it!”

The café offers Dell gaming workstations, console gaming areas for visitors to play a wide range of video games and bring-your-own-computer tables for LAN parties. Beginning on April 5, the café will be open to the public on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 11 p.m. It is free for registered NIU students with a valid OneCard. The cost for the public is $5 per hour or $45 for 10 hours, with special event pricing available to groups.

For more information about esports at NIU, visit or contact

To RSVP for the April 5 open house, or to reserve the café for your birthday or wedding party, esports practice or tournament, corporate team building event or other group event, contact