Battleground Zero Esport Arena, a British-based company, had rented a 4,000 sq. ft. space in the food hall area of the White Plains Galleria mall and was expected to open in a week when a clarification about arcade gaming in the city’s zoning code abruptly stopped the process over the weekend.
Referred to by gaming enthusiasts as an IMAX theater of video games where people gather to interact rather than play alone at home, the question about the facility’s compliance with a law that prohibits arcades in the city caused members of the White Plains Building Dept. to stop the opening and conduct a review.
A report on lohud.com said the power was cut off and the manager and staff were escorted out of the building by mall security during a soft opening and press event on Saturday.
A press release posted on the front page of the Battleground Zero website by the company’s CEO Steven Christophersen referred to the whole affair as “weird behavior” by the City of White Plains’ Building Department.
In the press release Christophersen said, “…Our teams have worked extremely hard for this date, and we regret to inform you that we have been shut down by The City of White Plains Building Dept., and to make it worse we have no idea why since we were in line with all permits and requirements as verified by the White Plains City Inspectors. To make matters stranger the shutdown comes from an Engineer who declared that selling t-shirts, computers, desks, and chairs is considered illegal in White Plains and in a shopping mall. I am as confused as you are why an American city is against Internet, technology, and American businesses with software created in the United States and Silicon Valley.”
The store’s manager said he had been working with the Galleria for months. The building permits indicated that the business would be primarily retail. The arcade prohibition limits stores to three videogame machines.
The lohud.com report quoted Karen Pasquale, senior adviser to White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, that it was a misunderstanding based on the information contained in (Battle Ground Zero’s) original permit application as to what the space would be used for.
According to the lohud report, Pasquale further said the Building Department is working through that now and would be in touch with the applicant shortly.
The Battleground Zero website is also selling “Let Us Game” t-shirts aimed at White Plains. One reads: “We are in America, not Russia, and they game.”