| Special to The Salina Journal
There’s a new game in town in a completely revamped old space: District Eat and Play has opened in the former Sears store location at Salina’s Central Mall.
This is a huge space — 96,000 square feet where hundreds of people can spread out to enjoy a drink, eat a meal, play games, attend a birthday party or race through an indoor Go-Kart track at speeds up to 45 mph.
“We want to provide a consistently great experience for all ages,” said manager Donald White. White moved to Salina from Florida a few months ago to manage this location, which is just the third location in the country.
District Eat and Play has a popular location in Oviedo, Fla., which is in the Orlando area. It has a slightly different concept location at a mall in Independence, Mo., called the District Jungle. This new entertainment concept is by the IPG Business Group, which owns Salina’s Central Mall, as well as the malls in Oviedo and Independence.
“I think this is huge for the community and the whole region,” said Steve Owens, director of marketing and specialty leasing at the Central Mall. “This will drive traffic into the mall and the tenants are excited. There are other new things happening too.”
District Eat and Play is now the largest tenant at the Central Mall. It features a colorful arcade with state-of-the-art games to play. It includes a bar with 12 beers on tap and a restaurant with a full menu, including vegan options. In the restaurant/bar area, there is a large screen on one wall on which to enjoy watching a ball game. The screen is 262 inches, making it the largest in central Kansas. In front of the screen is a stage that can be used for karaoke or bingo games.
District features a unique entertainment experience with boutique bowling. Boutique bowling is smaller than regular bowling and the pins are on strings. The balls are smaller and lighter too, so all ages can enjoy a game.
The Go-Karts are driven on a track developed in Italy and designed for a Formula One feel while driving. There can be up to six Karts on the track at one time.
The HD Sports Simulator promises to be popular, especially with golfers. There are 34 other sports to try on this large screen as well.
There are party rooms for birthday parties, meetings and corporate events.
Another attraction is the five lanes for ax-throwing. Players can choose between targets and electronics will keep score. There can be up to four participants per lane. No one under 12 is permitted.
To make paintball fun and safe for ages 4 and up, District offers a variation called GellyBall, which is a hybrid of paintball and air soft. They describe it as similar to paintball but without the mess, stain or sting.
“When everything is operational and people are playing, it’s incredible because everyone has a smile on their face,” White said. “We want to be consistent in the experience that our customers have at District.”
District Eat and Play will employ 50 people and be open seven days a week. Masks are required at this time due to COVID-19.
“So many people think the mall is dying,” Owens said. “It’s not. There’s nothing like this in the region. There are lots of things happening. This is pretty exciting.”