In an effort to build upon the recent multi-faceted esports approach that St. Joe’s implemented, SJU Athletics cultivated a new partnership which will help promote esports within the city of Philadelphia.
On Nov. 12, the university announced via a press release that they would be partnering with the 76ers Gaming Club (GC), the NBA 2K League team of the Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment portfolio, associated with the Philadelphia 76ers.
According to Jill Bodensteiner, J.D., director of athletics, this partnership provides a great opportunity to grow the St. Joe’s esports brand and acquaint 76ers GC fans with the university.
“We think it’s a win-win for both entities,” Bodensteiner said. “It’s an opportunity to introduce each other to our fans, alumni and friends.”
Bodensteiner said she is excited to help students with an interest in gaming get further involved in the world of esports, where there are career paths that she describes as “recession proof.”
“With the building of Fusion [Arena] and the success of the 76ers GC, there’s so much happening [in Philadelphia] that we think this is just another step in us helping get students who are interested in learning more about gaming as a career,” Bodensteiner said.
According to Bodenstiener, Philadelphia has become the East Coast epicenter for esports particularly with the building of Fusion Arena, an esports arena currently under construction in the city. She foresees this partnership as a way to help expand on that development within the city.
“I love the analogy with the recent announcement that St. Joe’s will serve as the host for the men’s basketball’s first and second rounds in 2026,” Bodensteiner said. “I see a similar opportunity if maybe co-hosting a college championship at Fusion Arena.”
In an email to the Hawk, Kathryn Alario, vice president of marketing for the Philadelphia 76ers, said that this partnership marks a commitment to developing the esports industry.
“This new interactive partnership between 76ers Gaming Club and Saint Joseph’s University provides 76ers GC with an opportunity to continue its commitment to develop the next generation of esports players, influencers and executives,” Alario said. “Both 76ers GC and Saint Joseph’s University have been committed to empowering students in our city, state and surrounding area by fueling their esports passion.”
According to Alario, this is a chance to build on the short but storied esports history that Philadelphia has already cultured.
“Esports roots run deep through our city and we are thrilled to be part of a group that nurtures their growth,” Alario said. “Our partnership with Saint Joseph’s University helps bridge a fortified path between aspiring professional gamers, influencers and executives and individuals who have made successful esports careers.”
Patrick Troise ’21, captain of the League of Legends gaming branch of St. Joe’s esports club team, said this partnership will help to get more students involved in esports here on campus.
“The partnership with the 76ers will help the [esports] club team expand and reach more gamers,” Troise said. “It provides a bridge for students interested in esports and the business side involved in the industry. This is something I believe tons of students will take advantage of as the esports club continues to grow.”
Although the St. Joe’s esports club team is fairly new, Troise said he sees this as a chance to add a level of professionalism to the program that only comes with more experience in the sport.
“The 76ers GC can specifically bring some professionalism and organization to our current team, as the program is still new and just getting started it will be great to get some guidance from experienced people,” Troise said. “The opportunities are endless when it comes to the partnership with the 76ers GC.”