[caption id="attachment_37572" align="alignleft" width="360" caption="Employees of Playland Greg Stettler, Kyle Hendry, Jorgio Gonzales, Bret Short and Owner Ryan Podesta holding son, Niko, display a new company sign. "][/caption]
SANTA ROSA -- Billed as the largest indoor paintball, laser tag and airsoft center west of the Mississippi River, the new Playland is scheduled to have a soft opening the week of Aug. 5 at 170 Todd Road, pending final approvals from the county.
Owner Ryan Podesta is putting his 16 years of experience and personal finances behind this new venture, along with funding from three private investors.
"I named this center Playland after the Playland of the Pacific amusement center in San Francisco at the beach. When I was a kid, my father would tell me stories, such as one about every child wanting to have a birthday party at Playland. This is my way of re-creating that fun-filled experience for another generation."
Mr. Podesta also operates a retail paintball store, called Thirty First Outfitters, at 615 Petaluma Blvd. North (named for California, the 31st state) where paintball fans can buy air-powered guns, gear and supplies.
In addition to his enterprises, he also serves as a civilian consultant to the U.S. Army where he leads a one-week paintball-based rehabilitation program for G.I.'s returning from a war zone.
Mr. Podesta was previously a member of the original startup team for the Escape Entertainment paintball center in Rohnert Park.
"I've been involved in this industry most of my life and wanted to get out on my own. I believe this sport is a better alternative to just sitting down playing video games at a console. It provides exercise, builds teamwork and helps develop hand-eye coordination."
[caption id="attachment_37574" align="alignright" width="360" caption="Playland paintball center employees conduct mock battles at the new center at 170 Todd Road in Santa Rosa."][/caption]
Playland has signed an initial five-year lease from building owners, Balco Properties, with an option on another five years. Mr. Podesta expects to employ 22 workers once the center is operational.
The 63,000-square-foot structure is spacious enough to house three separate paintball fields, a laser tag arena and a separate Airsoft zone labeled as an "urban warfare" center.
All fields are "capped" or enclosed in a net to contain the paintballs. Observation windows are provided for spectators. Pro training classes will also be taught to aid customers in improving their skills.
The professional field is carpeted with pro-level black artificial turf. Other fields use bark as a means to stay "green" and keep the outdoor feeling alive, while offering a scent of being in the woods.
Fields contain a wide-range of obstacles, vehicles, boats, tires, bridges, bunkers, tunnels and mock-housing units to add realism to the hunt, run, shoot, drop and dive player maneuvers.
Furthermore, the center will have an arcade with more than 60 games, an equipment rental section, a 2,000 s.f. paintball store -- boasting one of the most well-stocked inventories in Northern California -- as well as lockers and a reception area.