What was once a computer lab in a Hillsborough County rec center is now a family-friendly gaming lounge, stocked with over twenty different games. Esports has really taken off the past few years. It doesn’t matter your age, everyone loves playing video games these days. You can even find video game bars in the Tampa area; but this lounge in Carrollwood isn’t built for adults, the Northdale Park & Recreation Center opened its Esports Lounge doors last summer. Whether your niche is Super Smash Bros, Fornite, or Rocket League, there’s fun to be had for everyone.
If you aren’t familiar, Esports is just electronic gaming competition that is often played for big prizes. Popularity in competitive gaming really took off during the pandemic when everyone was forced to stay inside. The Tampa rec center wanted to take advantage of this growing passion with young kids and opened the county’s first gaming lounge. Typically known for physical sport programs, the rec center implemented the Esports Lounge to accommodate kids who have physical barriers that limit them to participating in competitive sports while still keeping the fun.
Northdale’s Esports Lounge has six 65-inch televisions, controllers, and a dozen gaming chairs. The games’ audio and chat functions are disabled to ensure a positive environment for players. Kids that participate in summer and after-school programs have dedicated times throughout the week in which they are able to freely use the lounge. They’ve come up with a great playing system to keep kids from waiting to play their favorite game.
Open play takes place Monday and Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Sunday from 2:30-5:30 p.m. The popularity of the Esports Lounge had really taken off, so a second location opened at Emanuel P. Johnson Park & Recreation Center back in March. Best part about both of these gaming lounges is that they are FREE to participate in!
For more information about Northdale Park & Recreation Center, click here.