As the town and Stop & Shop work together to come up with the best use of Stop & Shop’s property at the Bourne Bridge rotary, the owner of the paintball operation that has been using the property for years wants to be part of the planning discussions. The owner of Ultimate Battleground has a keen interest in what happens to the property where his business has been located for the past decade.
Ultimate Battleground owner Robert Smith appeared before the Bourne Board of Selectmen Tuesday, April 16, and spoke at length about the company and the business he brings to the Bourne community.
Mr. Smith explained that paintball has actually been at that location by the rotary for about 20 years. Originally, it was known as Cape Cod Paintball, he said. He bought the business in 2009 and changed it to Ultimate Battleground, he said.
“We’re proud of our success, being a unique entertainment venue on the Cape. We’re the only one left,” he said, adding that an indoor paintball venue in Hyannis has closed.
Paintball is a competitive team shooting sport in which players eliminate opponents by hitting them with spherical dye-filled gelatin capsules that break upon impact. In addition to paintball, the business offers other sports including laser tag, a game played with guns which fire infrared beams that set off infrared-sensitive targets worn by each player.
There is also Airsoft, a team sport in which participants shoot opponents with spherical plastic projectiles launched via replica air weapons called airsoft guns. Mr. Smith acknowledged that most people in town are unaware of his business, but it is growing “more than I ever thought it would.”
“At times, it draws people from other continents, believe it or not, because people from out of the country come,” he said.
There have been national events held at Ultimate Battleground, with upwards of 800 players taking part in a competition. It has even hosted players from professional sports teams, Mr. Smith said. He noted that on one occasion, members of the Philadelphia Flyers came to play paintball when they were in Boston, a decision the players may have ultimately regretted.
“They lost the next day to the Boston Bruins, so we must’ve tired them out,” he said.
Ultimate Battleground has also hosted cadets from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, troopers from Massachusetts State Police. They sponsor two local Little League baseball teams, and patronize local restaurants who provide food for birthday parties that are held at Ultimate Battleground—sometimes as many as four to five a weekend, he said.
“So I try to do as much for the community as I can,” he said.
Selectman Judith M. Froman asked how much of the property Ultimate Battleground leases from Stop & Shop. Mr. Smith said he leases the entire property “but we actually use about 40 acres.” Ms. Froman admitted that she was unaware of the extent of Ultimate Battleground’s success, and apologized for earlier comments she had made that disparaged the business.
“You are definitely under the radar as far as what goes on in that area,” she said, adding that she plans to visit the complex soon.
Mr. Smith noted that finding year-round entertainment on Cape Cod can be difficult. Additionally, getting children involved in something active as opposed to playing video games can be equally challenging, he said. His business provides a solution to both problems with games that are played year-round and outdoors, he said.
Among the investments he has made over the years are a security system featuring surveillance cameras, installed at the request of Stop & Shop, to prevent theft. During the winter, he has five people who work for him, and that increases to 10 during the summer, he said.
“It’s a fun place. I’ve enjoyed it over the years,” he said.
He said the only limitation his business faces right now is the uncertainty of the Stop and Shop property’s future. He said that he is unwilling to make any further investment in the business until some decision is made relative to the land.
Mr. Smith reiterated that he would like town officials to involve him in any discussions between the town and Stop & Shop regarding the future of the property. He said that he does not want to have to move his business from its present location.
“We just want to be involved. If there’s a piece that we can keep our business going and keep it in town for the kids,” he said.
Selectman James L. Potter expressed his thanks to Mr. Smith for doing business in Bourne. Mr. Potter also promised to keep Mr. Smith in the loop on what happens to the Stop & Shop property.
“You’re a part of the community,” he said.
Stop & Shop purchased the property and all permitting in October 2013 for $10 million. A Cape Cod Commission Development of Regional Impact permit was granted a five-year extension in July 2017 to July 27, 2022. The grocery store giant has had no success finding someone interested in developing all or even a piece of the 152-acre site, and has reached out to the town for help in marketing the property.