Alabaster’s ‘Hooligans’ still going strong

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – When Alabaster residents Ryan and Jess Sykes made the decision to open a video game arcade and indoor mini golf business in late 2015, those familiar with the industry shared some words of caution.

“When we said we were going to open, people said ‘Oh, traditional arcades are dead. Your business won’t last long,’” Ryan Sykes said during a March 2 interview at their business, Hooligans Family Fun in Alabaster.

Since opening nearly three years ago, the business has seen a steady increase in customers, and has significantly expanded its offerings, nearly filling the building Hooligans occupies.

“We started with 18 games, and we’re close to 60 now,” Ryan Sykes said. “We find them everywhere. We travel to all the states surrounding Alabama to find them, we find some locally and some even came from Rhode Island.”

Today, the business is filled to the brim with everything from a classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade machine to more modern games such as the Terminator and Time Crisis. It includes an air hockey table, pinball tables and a glowing blacklight-lit miniature golf course.

For the first few years Hooligans was open, it operated like a traditional arcade, where each game was solely quarter-operated. Last October, the Sykes decided to change to a play-all-day for one set price model.

“You pay $12 when you get here, and you are good all day,” Ryan Sykes said, noting the business also offers monthly passes. “People have been absolutely loving it, but we’re still trying to get the word out about that.”

Moving forward, the Sykes are looking to possibly move into a larger venue and continue growing the business’ offerings.

“We’re about to fill this place up. It’s a good problem to have,” Ryan Sykes said with a laugh.

Hooligans is located at 519 First Street Southwest in Alabaster, and it is open Tuesdays-Thursdays from 3-9 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m.-midnight, Saturdays from 10 a.m.-midnight and on Sundays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The business is closed on Mondays.