It seemed fitting to open Las Vegas’ first EA Sports Bar on Final Four weekend, except for one detail: The bar’s launch at the Cosmopolitan occurred one hour after the first national semifinal game had started, when most people were already settled in somewhere to watch the biggest college basketball doubleheader of the year.
Nonetheless, I pulled myself off my couch between games on March 31 to watch real sports in a bar built for the virtual variety. I’m not a gamer myself, but I wanted to see if EA Sports—makers of some of the best sports video games on the market—had integrated bits and booze as successfully as downtown’s Insert Coin(s), which often has people lined up on the sidewalk waiting to get in.
There are some differences between the two bars: While Insert Coin(s) offerings include dozens of violent, nonsports games and classic arcade favorites, the EA Sports Bar has only, well, EA Sports games such as Madden NFL, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, NCAA Football and FIFA Soccer.
There are nine living room-style areas with comfortable, leather sofas and chairs at which to play video games, with Sony PlayStation 3 consoles available for $10 an hour. Six 70-inch TVs lined up over the bar provide flexibility for those who either want to watch a live sporting event or engage in a virtual contest.
With the Final Four games capturing most everyone’s attention at the grand opening, few guests were playing video games. In fact, the most popular gaming device was an antique 1930s-era foosball table in the center of the room, which received a steady stream of attention.
EA Sports has previously opened lounges in the Charlotte, N.C., airport and on Carnival Cruise ships, but it remains to be seen if tourists will be willing to spend part of their Las Vegas vacation engaging in an activity that’s available to them in their own basement.
Of course, the 2,500-square-foot venue offers amenities the living room can’t quite match: a glass-covered façade that provides an open view of the Strip. And a fully stocked bar. (Don’t bring your gamer kids—the bar’s for 21 and over.)
The sports bar replaced the pop-up wedding chapel, and the space was a Droog retail store before that. For now, EA Sports is only scheduled to stay open through early summer as part of the Cosmo’s strategy to keep giving customers new offerings.
“In the spirit of the pop-up wedding chapel, we will continue to experiment in this space, giving our guests a fresh experience each time they visit the resort,” says Lisa Marchese, the Cosmopolitan’s chief marketing officer.
Which means that even if the EA Sports Bar is successful, it still might be “game over” this summer.