The doors for Chicago Pizza are locked and the restaurant is closed. It's unclear when or if it will reopen.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department issued a cease and desist order after investigators discovered the game bar inside was operating without a permit. A number of citations were also issued.
An Action News Jax investigation uncovered fire safety code violations from Oct.17, 2017, including failing “to use extension cords as temporary wiring,” failing “to provide complete record of fire alarm test,” and failing “to maintain operational integrity of fire alarm.”
JFRD investigators returned Jan. 26, 2018, and stated Chicago Pizza had corrected the violations.
However, the game bar, which was unpermitted and not included in the approved layout plan of the restaurant, was described as “not being used…” However, we found videos online that show the game bar in operation prior to the inspection.
JFRD spokesmanTom Francis says inspectors don’t carry layout plans with them, and inspect thousands of buildings annually.
Their investigations center around ‘Life Safety Code Issues.’ Francis says the only way JFRD could have known about the unpermitted game bar was if someone had told them, and they opened an investigation.
A JFRD report states, had the illegal gaming space not existed, “… the video game tournament would not have occurred,” and thus “…the incident would not have occurred at the Jacksonville Landing…”
Professional Madden gamers like Dennis Alston want answers from EA Sports. They say the venue did not seem suitable for the event.
Alston says the lone person running the event started asking paying patrons to exit the building at one point.
“It got to a point that he himself got frustrated, the guy throwing the event, because he didn't have a walkway,” said Alston.
On Tuesday Action News Jax emailed EA Sports, asking what had been done to scout the venue ahead of the tournament.
We were referred to a statement by CEO Andrew Wilson, and told no further statements would be provided.
It states the next few qualifiers would be canceled, and states in part, the company is working to “…establish a consistent level of security…”
The statement did not discuss how the venue was selected.
“It kind of makes me think, did they even check the venue?” said Alston.
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