LOGAN SQUARE — A 27-year-old financial consultant is looking to open a gaming center and lounge dedicated to competitive video gaming on Logan Square’s Milwaukee Avenue.
The new business is planned for the corner storefront at 2741 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Like other eSports gaming centers around the country, the Logan Square spot will offer computer setups and a projector so gamers can play in a group and project the games on a big screen for everyone to watch, said founder Adam Abbas.
The center will also have a separate lounge area with a snack bar. The menu will include craft beer, cocktails and finger foods like sandwiches and pastries.
Abbas, a gamer himself, said his goal is to bring people together and create a social experience for those who enjoy playing and watching others play “fun and engaging” video games like “Fortnite” and “League of Legends.”
“A lot of people have this stigma of us sitting in our mom’s basement playing ‘Zelda,’ but that’s just not the case,” Abbas said.
In order to sell alcohol, Abbas needs city approval to lift the liquor moratorium on the block. A City Council committee approved the measure last week, but it still needs approval from the full City Council.
An increasing number of eSports gaming centers are popping up in cities across the country as the industry grows in popularity. The Chicago area is home to at least two such centers: one at DePaul University and another in suburban Skokie called Ignite Gaming Lounge.
At the Logan Square spot, some tournaments will require advance registration, but video gamers and spectators will always be able to walk in and join a game or two. Abbas is planning to host regular watch parties and live stream tournaments.
“Ten to 15 years ago, people who played video games didn’t have the internet to connect and talk about our passion. This is a new concept and we’re trying to tap into this growing industry,” Abbas said.
Abbas said he’s still in the middle of finalizing the pricing structure but aims to charge walk-in video gamers about $6 per hour. An all-day pass will set gamers back around $50, he said.
To the left of where you walk in, there will be rows of computers where the gaming will take place. The snack bar, projectors and lounge area will be situated on the opposite side.
Abbas said he’s planning to decorate the gaming center like an eSports tournament: computers with underglow lighting and a lot of flashing lights.
Originally from suburban Carol Stream, Abbas moved to Chicago in 2010 to study business administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He went on to get his master’s degree in finance at DePaul University.
Abbas said he’s always enjoyed playing video games with his friends and was struck by Chicago’s apparent lack of gaming centers.
“When it comes to having a place to watch with my group of my friends, there’s no place to go except at home, streaming from the laptop to the TV,” he said.
Abbas lives in the Gold Coast but routinely goes out to the bars in Logan Square, where some of his friends live. He said he was drawn to Logan Square for its “night scene, great food and younger crowd.”
If everything goes according to plan, Abbas is planning to open the gaming center and lounge just a few months after the liquor moratorium is lifted, which he suspects will happen in late July.
Abbas’ business is currently called OP-ESPORTS, but he might rebrand before opening.
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