Game On: St. Louis CITY SC, UMSL to partner on esports and professional development education initiatives

St. Louis CITY SC Chief Revenue Officer Dennis Moore joins UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and CITY Correspondent Kristin Carver in holding up a scarf after announcing a new partnership between the St. Louis soccer club and the university

St. Louis CITY SC Chief Revenue Officer Dennis Moore joins UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and CITY Correspondent Kristin Carver in holding up a scarf after announcing a new partnership between the St. Louis soccer club and the university at an event on Thursday in the Millennium Student Center. (Photos by August Jennwein)

St. Louis CITY SC and the University of Missouri–St. Louis are entering a dynamic new partnership to grow the next generation of esports players and fans and unite the two STLMade brands in programming designed to foster professional development by expanding UMSL’s sport management offerings.

Students, faculty, staff and community members packed into the lower level of the Millennium Student Center late Thursday morning for a spirited event unveiling the new collaboration. They cheered loudly as Dennis Moore, the chief revenue officer for St. Louis CITY SC, made the announcement.

“UMSL is now the official higher education partner of St. Louis CITY SC,” Moore said. “We will work together to build the St. Louis CITY/UMSL Sport Management Program, and UMSL is the new presenting partner of our club’s esports program.”

The St. Louis CITY SC/UMSL Sport Management Program expands upon UMSL’s current curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and will foster the next generation of sporting professionals.

“Selfishly, I couldn’t think of anything more important for the vitality of our organization,” Moore said. “Future athletic directors, coaches, facility managers, sports marketers, ticket sellers, you name it.”

A large crowd applauds at the announcement of a new partnership between St. Louis CITY SC and UMSL

A large crowd applauds at the announcement of a new partnership between St. Louis CITY SC and UMSL.

The program includes opportunities for students to engage with CITY SC executives through on-campus classroom visits and speaking engagements. Additionally, UMSL students across all majors will have the opportunity to intern with St. Louis CITY SC and to gain service hours.

“This is an exciting and unique partnership that focuses on building direct connections between the University of Missouri–St. Louis and St. Louis CITY SC,” UMSL Chancellor Kristin Sobolik said.  “Our partnership includes academic integration to provide students with internships, gameday opportunities, in-class engagements with club personnel and players, and more – all to build a direct and diverse pipeline for the region’s workforce.”

The university will be the presenting partner of a home game during the team’s inaugural season, which kicks off on Feb. 25. Attendees will receive a giveaway item.

Capitalizing on the global popularity of esports and the success of eMLS, Major League Soccer’s esports competition, UMSL also is serving as the presenting partner of St. Louis CITY SC’s esports program. The university’s familiar branding will be featured on CITY SC’s eMLS kit and throughout CITY SC’s esports lounge, which will be located at the club’s Downtown St. Louis headquarters in CITYPARK’s stadium district.

The partnership comes ahead of the launch of UMSL’s first-ever competitive esports team which will debut in fall 2023. UMSL and CITY SC also will coordinate events between UMSL esports students and the club’s eMLS player, Niklas Raseck.

St. Louis CITY SC eMLS Player Niklas Raseck

Launched in January 2018, eMLS is Major League Soccer’s competitive EA SPORTS FIFA League, in which professional EA SPORTS FIFA players compete in the video game series. St. Louis CITY SC recently signed Raseck, the German FIFA champion as its second-ever eMLS player ahead of the 2023 season. Raseck is the first European FIFA player signed to an MLS club.

Known also as NRaseck7 and NR7, Raseck is one of the most consistent FIFA players in the world. He reached the semifinals of the German Championships at age 14, going on to win the VBL Championship and qualify for the finals or semifinals an additional three times in his career. In 2019 Raseck won the FUT 20 Champions Cup and is a three-time qualifier for the FIFA eWorld Cup and most recently represented Guild eSports in the FIFA Global Series and Team Cups in 2022.

The 2023 eMLS season begins with League Series 1, Jan. 24-29. It continues with League Series 2, Feb. 7-12, and concludes with the eMLS Cup, March 11-12 at South by Southwest in Austin.

UMSL Esports

Louie sits down to play a game of FIFA against an UMSL students in the Millennium Student Center after an announcement that UMSL is launching an esports program beginning next fall

Louie sits down to play a game of FIFA against an UMSL students in the Millennium Student Center after an announcement that UMSL is launching an esports program beginning next fall.

UMSL is set to launch its first competitive esports team in fall 2023. The UMSL Esports Program is an extracurricular student experience tailored to students and prospective students who are talented esports players and is designed to engage students who have an interest in innovation and technology. Initial plans call for an advanced gaming arena being built in the Millennium Student Center that will serve more than 25 players in year one. The program will provide a vibrant engagement opportunity for students in academic programs such as computer science, engineering, information systems, art and graphic design, and business-related programs.

UMSL will serve as the presenting partner of the St. Louis CITY SC Esports Program which includes esports and gaming integration through dedicated events on and off campus, content and externship opportunities for UMSL students.

“We are aligning our esports efforts to provide students with opportunities to engage on the national and international stage,” Sobolik said. “We look forward to seeing St. Louis CITY SC with a consistent presence on campus.”

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