An evolutionary leap in the sports bar
Courtesy of Sega, Artist's rendition of the World Sports Grille.

If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, don’t fret.

The traditional sports bar is slated for an evolutionary leap at Foothills Mall, in a whirl of global sports coverage, 103-inch plasma screens, video games, food and drink, when the World Sports Grille by Sega opens on Aug. 1.

Sega project manager Greg Zinn registered a foreman’s quiet pride, stepping over extension cords last week as he revealed the restaurant’s layout, nearing completion after almost a year’s work.

A wide sports memorabilia-lined entry guides patrons into a 16,000 square-foot “interactive sports viewing experience,” which Sega plans to take nationwide after the concept’s Tucson launch.

“Gaming’s always been the past focus,” Zinn said. “Now it’s food. It’s a different energy.”

One look at the menu says Zinn’s correct, so bring your appetite.

Prepared from scratch, World Sports Grille’s menu travels far beyond the standard array of appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. Their approach aims to leave “bar food” behind, offering Kobe beef hot dogs, handmade pizza, and lamb-and-shiitake mushroom noodle dishes.

Vegetarians can breathe easy, too, as nearly a fifth of the fare conforms to a meat-free diet, said World Sports Grille general manager Rebecca Bowers.

“We basically try to create menus that you’d feel comfortable with everywhere, but with a worldly flair,” Bowers said.

The restaurateur blip first appeared on Sega Entertainment USA’s screens three years ago, when the entertainment giant bought out GameWorks’ arcade outlets. Pairing Sega’s gaming expertise with full menus and bars, trial runs of the World Sports Grill rang successful in Seattle and Detroit.

Planners hope to attract a hybrid clientele to the Foothills Mall location, with families at the helm, said Sega USA president Ben Kitay. Overlooking the 5,000-foot state-of-the-art gaming area is the “Press Box,” where parents can relax among a grown-up environment, within eyesight of frenzied kids.

“You go to some of these family fun centers, and it’s no fun for mom and dad,” Kitay said.  “Forget it.”

Snow, skate and surfboards will deck out the “Boardroom,” a quieter nook suitable for snowbird dinners or casual meetings.  Each table features individual speakers, tunable to whatever on-screen drama plays out.

Late-nighters will be quite happy as well, Kitay said.

A three-tiered wrap-around bar, set before roll-up doors leading out to the fire pit, offers 32 draught beers and 70 bottled brews from 50 countries.  Darts and billiards — a tavern’s best friend — add to the mix and should offer plenty of chances to mingle below an elevated DJ booth.

Good times — that is, if one can pry their friends from those plasma screens.

“We’re not going to be scared to bring in soccer games from Latin America, Japanese baseball and the Tour de France,” Kitay said.

“Whatever’s going on, it’s going to be there.”

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