Brunswick Negotiating Purchase of eSkape

Officials from Lake Forest-based Brunswick hope to convert eSkape Entertainment Center into a Brunswick Zone XL this fall.

is on its way to new amenities, new ownership and a new name.

Brunswick unveiled plans Monday night to take over the facility and convert it into a Brunswick Zone XL, an entertainment center that the company’s website says offers “extra large fun.”

Mike Long, Brunswick’s vice president for service, said the company is negotiating with eSkape to acquire and rebrand the facility. He shared plans to make a series of interior improvements with village officials during their committee of the whole meeting. Those plans include adding arcade games and billiards tables; converting The Arena, which currently hosts bands, into a laser tag area; adding a new restaurant and lounge area, and converting the current restaurant space into meeting rooms.

Most of the 36 bowling lanes would remain intact, though four would be closed and later relocated, Long said.

“In today’s market, customers are demanding multiple options in a game facility,” he said. “We’re really excited about being in Buffalo Grove. It’s a dynamic market, we believe.”

Brunswick Zone XL locations, which include Algonquin and Naperville, are larger than traditional Brunswick Zones and offer more amenities, upgraded games and more food and beverage selections, said Don MacBrayne, vice president of operations.

Brunswick seeks an amendment to a village ordinance that caps the number of coin-operated machines at 36. The company hopes to offer up to 60 games in the Buffalo Grove facility.

“We do not want to attract the dark element that comes in with the video games,” Long said. “There’s no blood and gore and guts … we attract families that want to go out and have a good time together.” 

Brunswick officials hope to take over eSkape's lease in mid-September. The building would be shut down for three weeks while painting, carpeting and other interior work is done. Long said the Brunswick Zone XL would be fully operational by the beginning of November.

Bill Feldgreber, eSkape’s general manager, offered little comment Monday night, other than to acknowledge that the plans with Brunswick began only a short while ago and that he’s excited about the proposed purchase. But, he added, “it’s not done.”

Trustees will be asked to approve the request for additional game machines at their Sept. 10 meeting. 

On Monday, village officials’ responses included a question from Trustee Steve Trilling about whether surveillance cameras in The Arena would continue to provide a feed to the police station. Long noted that The Arena area would no longer be in place, but that he’d be willing to work with police if there are concerns. Police Chief Steve Balinski said he’d consider the matter and make a recommendation to the Board. 

Trustee Andy Stein wondered whether eSkape would advise children to redeem stashes of prize tickets before the facility closes and whether Brunswick would honor eSkape’s tickets. Officials indicated they would work together on that transition.

Stein also wondered what would happen to eSkape’s employees. Long said the plan is to keep eSkape’s staff, which numbers 70. Employees would be interviewed by Brunswick, which would also conduct new background checks, he said.

Village attorney Bill Raysa pointed out that in addition to the ordinance limiting the number of amusement devises, village codes also specify aisle widths and minimum spacing between game machines.

Restrictions were put on amusement devices, Trustee Jeff Berman said, because the village’s previous police chief “didn’t like video games.”

“I don’t see any issues at this time,” said Balinski, who added that he will look into issues documented at Dave & Busters, a similar entertainment facility.

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Stuart Tindall August 23, 2012 at 03:07 PM
From the coutryside article "Village Trustee Jeff Berman said that when eSkape was first opening, Buffalo Grove police officials had frowned upon video games, which can sometimes attract a clientele that drifts into troublemaking. The Brunswick Zone XL would keep its game room well-lit, MacBrayne said, and would favor kid- or grownup-friendly games with little focus on fighting games. “We do not want to attract the dark element that comes in for the video games, which was the problem 20 years ago,” MacBrayne said. “There’s no blood and gore and guts and all that. We attract families.” This is pretty insulting to me as a 31 year old video gamer. Fighting games have never been my thing, but outdated and sad stereotypes like this hurt all of us. Judging people, even children, based on their preferred legal entertainment is wrong.
Mark Hansen August 24, 2012 at 05:05 AM
At the same time I am excited, I bet I will be left disappointed. For starters I can't believe you are pointing the finger over at fighting games. I don't personally play fighting games, but the community surrounding those games is one of the best in the American arcade scene so I can't believe you would shun such a important group of gamers, especially when the arcade market is pretty much dead in the first place. So since anything "violent" is out of the question what is one to expect besides those redemption games? I really hope the guys in charge have done their research outside of this so called "dark element" and maybe found the cool hidden gems. A new Pump it up arcade game would be nice or better yet, a DJ Max TECHNIKA 3. I have seen the popularity of both games and they would be great for almost any venue. They have beautiful attractive cabinets and have interactive gameplay. TECHNIKA can even attract many casuals, in some cases I have seen a line longer then 1 hour to play a round of the game. Either way I will probably swing by and check it out in November. I really hope the arcade has some newer games, especially one of the games I stated above, even though the odds are very slim.


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