With the mercury hitting a new high every day, facilities for indoor sports and games at malls have become the hottest entertainment option, writes Vipasha Sinha
Invincible superheroes may play a slew of outdoors sports all through summer, without a day’s break. Mortals with a similar appetite for entertainment will, however, do well to spend the summer in malls. Now they do not have to do so with a sense of resignation. Indoor recreational sports and games have never been so inviting. A raft of malls – including Express Avenue (Royapettah) , City Center (Mylapore), Ramee Mall (Teynampet), Phoenix Market City (Velachery), Abirami Mega Mall (Purasawalkam) and Ampa Skywalk (Aminijikarai) – offer residents in every neighbourhood the option of turning their backs on the sun and still play hard.
In some cases, the games themselves take on the sun. They are designed to create the cool illusion that the sun does not exist. Facilities that simulate a neighbourhood that is covered in flakes of snow fall in this category.
On the other end of the spectrum are facilities that have brought indoors sports that are generally played out in the sun. Indoor cricket facilities with a battery of bowling machines and a spread of pitches are a classic example. During high summer – as also during the monsoon – these facilities are patronised by top-of-the-flight cricketers who can’t afford to miss out on their practice.
Okay now, if snow works for you, then you may head to Abirami Mega Mall or Phoenix Market City. Snow World in Abirami Mall, launched in 2008, is a 4,000 sq ft. indoor facility where the temperature is maintained at minus six degree centigrade. “This kind of facility is called snow dome around the world, ours was the 33rd dome in the world. Around five tons of pure crystallised snow made from bacteria-free RO water is produced here. We have a 50-feet slide made out of ice, which is extremely popular,” says Abirami Ramanathan, managing director of Abirami Mega Mall. He adds that they receive a hundred per cent foot fall during summer.
I Play, on the second floor of the Phoenix Market City, is another place to cool off in a smiliar fashion. The space comprises an ice café, snow play and 5D cinema. “Snow play is open for anyone above age four. The temperature inside is minus five degree centigrade and people can involve in a lot fun activities. We also have an ice café, where the interiors is designed in such a way that you get the sense of having entered an ice cave. We are also launching an ice skating facility soon,” says S. Raj Mohan, director of I Play.
Next, let us look at bowling centres, another popular hangout during summer. In many malls and out-and-out entertainment zones, bowling is offered as part of a larger package that includes gaming. Blur at Sathyam Cinemas, Q Play at Ramee Mall, Gaming Arcade at Ampa Skywalk, Fun City at Phoenix City Mall are such places where gaming lovers can not only bowl but also play snooker and try their hand at Playstation.
“Bowling is very popular during summer, so much so that we function at full capacity during weekends. In order to accommodate more players, we are carrying out a renovation and minor modification. Console and PC games are popular as well. With colleges and schools having closed, facilities for such entertainment witness a huge rush during summer,” says Siva Subramanian, manager - floor operations at Blur.
Making the most of the increased patronage, Blur organises weekend tournaments. Siva says, “We are currently running a summer promotion activity at bike parking space. Basically, anyone who parks his bike at Sathyam gets to play a free arcade game at Blur. If they are interested, they can go in for the 20 per cent discount on the purchase of a Blur card.”
The newly-opened Q Play at Ramee mall has an array of gaming facilities. Apart from bowling and snooker, they have Playstation and Kinet Xbox motion games. Tapping into the summer demand for indoor entertainment, they have come up with many interesting offers.
Saminathan, manager of Q Play says, “In our special offer, people can play two rounds of bowling and get one free. The same is true of Playstation games. Regular customers get a 20 per cent offer.”
A kid’s idea of a day out at the mall has nothing to with shopping or food, but lots of time at fun zones or gaming parlours, usually located on the top floor of any mall. Not just a host of video games, these places have some fun-filled joy rides for kids and adults.
S. Senthil, store manager of Fun City at Express Avenue says, “During summer , we open at 10.30 a.m. In non-summer months, we open at 11 a.m. We earn thirty to forty percent of our annual income during the holiday season in summer. The summer carnival here is extremely popular where a person who recharges his card for Rs 1,500 gets a play for a value of Rs 2,000, “says S. Senthil . “This season we have launched three new rides – a mini ride Mini Tagada, Death storm pirates and an android-based, touch-screen game called Fruit Ninja,” he adds.
Arun Kumar, a ninth standard student from Mogappair says, “I play for my school cricket team and it is nearly impossible to practice outdoors in this heat. My friends and I come to the Indoor cricket facility at Ampa Mall for practice.”
Netz Cricket, on the fourth floor of Chennai Citi Centre, draws lovers of the sports cutting across all age groups. Apart from cricket, they also organise an indoor variant of football called Futsal, played on a smaller pitch with five players on each side. “We have special Futsal packages for the summer. Apart from that, we have a Futsal event for the international community living in Chennai. We aim at making Netz Cricket an ultimate indoor sports destination by having as many as 10 concept games. People can play here on an hourly basis and also undergo training from professional coaches,” says Mohammef Yusuf, executive director of Netz Cricket.