$750,000 Gift From Town & Country FCU Will Support the University of Southern Maine

Pictured left to right: 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. Photo Credit: Michael Kmack, USM

The University of Southern Maine Foundation announced it received a $750,000 gift from Town & Country FCU to build an Esports arena on the University of Southern Maine (USM) Gorham campus. The credit union 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.

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. The announcement came with remarks 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 FCU focused on facilitating collaboration and bringing people and organizations together to build stronger communities, both socially and economically. The credit union will be revealing additional details in the coming weeks and months about Collab.

One of the fastest-growing sports on college campuses across the country, Esports (short for electronic sports) is an 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 Dr. Jacqueline Edmondson, USM’s President. “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.”

David Libby, President and CEO of Town & Country FCU, 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.”

The Town & Country FCU 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.

“Town & Country has a long history of innovation and developing collaborative partnerships that are impactful and sustainable,” added Libby. “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 FCU will serve as a special innovation advisor to USM’s student-led Esports Advisory Committee. The credit union will also receive recognition on team uniforms, at regional and state competitions, and in future Esports podcasts.