TAMPA — GameWorks at Centro Ybor will reopen Friday under new owners who plan to overhaul the arcade with more family-friendly games.
Michael Abecassis of A&E Adventures LLC in Weston said the sale was completed Monday. He said he worked out a deal with the center's previous owner, Sega Entertainment U.S.A., to keep the GameWorks name for three to six months.
The 20,000-square-foot arcade closed last month after 10 years at the shopping complex. Centro Ybor officials told the St. Petersburg Times last week that they were optimistic despite the huge hole GameWorks would have left.
Still, "I was shocked," said Carl Dalcerro, Centro Ybor's director of operations. "It's something that's not that easy to rent, and the economy wouldn't help much."
Had GameWorks not returned to that spot, Dalcerro said it might have become office space.
"I'm looking forward to passing off the keys," he said. "I think it's going to be great."
Abecassis said the arcade needed an upgrade. Most of its games involved gore and guns, primarily aimed at the late-night, bar-hopping crowd.
Abecassis, who also bought a GameWorks in Miami and has worked as a GameWorks consultant for more than a decade, said that existing games were included in the sale but that 50 to 60 percent will be replaced.
He wants to bring in more family-friendly games in which players win tickets for prizes, such as Skee-Ball. That kind of gaming atmosphere would not just be attractive to parents with young kids, but for corporate events and business lunches.
Abecassis said two upstairs meeting rooms were underused. Those could expand the business' birthday party draw, which he said is a big moneymaker for arcades.
The prize-claim area will triple in size, Abecassis said. Prizes will be upgraded, he said, with some electronics valued at about $1,000 available.
"It'll simply be a better experience," he said.
Food will also get an upgrade. Hamburgers will be 100 percent Angus beef. The spinach in the spinach dip will be a higher grade. Alcohol will still be served. Eventually, the Tampa and Miami arcades might get new menus, Abecassis said.
Previous GameWorks employees can reapply for their jobs, Abecassis said.
A soft opening is scheduled for Friday.