The city's first in-door paintball arena opened two weeks ago in a former warehouse on Van Dam Street.For $39, customers get an air-powered rifle, 500 acorn-sized paintball pellets, a pair of goggles and three hours to test their mettle against other gunmen at NYC Paintball."It's an adrenaline rush," said director Peter Fermoselle, 39, who opened 27,000-square-foot facility March 4. "When you come out of the field, you can be trembling."The facility features two fields of inflatable bunkers and barriers. In teams of five and 10, players - who must be age 12 and over - enter from opposite ends of the zone. A DJ spins club music while they pick each other off. Rounds last between 30 seconds and two minutes."It's straight up elimination," Fermoselle said. "You get shot once, that's it, you're out. It's not like a video game where you get shot over and over."He suggests wearing long-sleeve shirts, thin gloves and padded clothes. The paint comes out in the wash.And another rule - stay sober."No alcohol," he said. "We definitely don't want to mix alcohol and paintball."Paintball, which began as a backwoods diversion 15 years ago, has evolved into one of the fastest growing extreme sports in the nation with magazines and television shows dedicated to the pastime. While Staten Island has had an outdoor arena for years, Fermoselle, who grew up in Corona and lives on Long Island, has been looking to open a site near Manhattan for about a year.But he ran into obstacles. The overhead is murder because an arena needs a lot space - which is the most precious commodity in New York City. Also, landlords in Brooklyn and Queens were cool to the venture."Most of the owners didn't want to have anything to do with paintball, they thought the liability was too high," Fermoselle recalled. "Paintball has a stigma of being unsafe."But he argues that the burgeoning sport, when played with the proper safety gear and supervision, has a lower injury rate than bowling, golf and swimming.But that doesn't mean it's not painful."You will get bruises you will get welts," Fermoselle said. "The honest truth is it does hurt. If it didn't hurt, it wouldn't be fun. You have the knowledge you can inflict that same amount of pain on someone else."He and his investors convinced the owner of a former pizza factory and air-conditioning warehouse at 47-11 Van Dam St. that the sport was safe, fun and profitable.Now Fermoselle hopes his business will spark a recreational enclave in Long Island City. A Fila sports center with a half dozen tennis courts is slated for the building next door and Fermoselle and his partners want to put a 2,000-seat extreme sports stadium on the roof of their facility later this year.Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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