It was a typically quiet Monday night at the Press Box Sports Bar and 13-year-old Caleb Coston was every bit in his element.
Coston was playing video games and enjoying the first Monday Night Madden Tournament, a weekly event just started by the Press Box, where anyone who pays $10 can play Madden NFL 2007 on the bar’s brand-new Xbox 360 system: four consoles hooked up to their own large-screen plasma televisions. The generation of “gamers” who are growing up, like Coston, playing video games every chance they get have a new arena—the sports bar.
By 9:30, Coston and his chaperoning grandmother had gone home and only six other friends from Hellgate High School stuck around to play in the tournament. The poker table at the other end of the bar was full while a couple shot pool. But with every electronic touchdown and turnover came cheers and trash-talking from the high-schoolers, whose enthusiasm easily equaled the sounds of clicking poker chips and clacking pool balls.
Ryan Rabey, a Press Box manager, first came up with the Monday Night Madden idea a few months ago. After ESPN started airing its video game reality TV series, “Madden Nation,” the plan began to seem like more than just a shot in the dark.
“Nowhere else in town offers this,” Rabey says. “I talked to some of the other managers and did some research and this seemed like a good idea.”
Rabey hopes to get gamers off their couches and into the bar by spreading the word around campus.
Even though Monday night’s crowd was on the small side and a bit young to buy beer, Rabey likes the looks of the way things are going.
“The Xbox at the Press Box,” he says. “It has a nice ring to it.”