Dart Town Arena at 7331 Lee Hwy. opens Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The grand opening event is Saturday from noon till 8 p.m. Play will be discounted Saturday. On Sunday, the business will be open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and dads play free all day, since it’s Father’s Day. Normal business hours start June 19. Monday: 10 a.m. - 9 p.m; Tuesday and Wednesday: closed; Thursday, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Friday: 10 a.m. - midnight; Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Sunday: 1 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Corey Hipp grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and he loved to go to a business inside a strip mall where teams of kids would battle it out with Nerf-style foam dart guns.
"We went every weekend. Had a blast. Loved it," said Hipp.
Now, he's brought the sport to Chattanooga with Dart Town Arena, a business in a former Dollar General store at 7331 Lee Highway.
For $12 an hour, $20 for two hours or $25 for an unlimited day pass, customers ages 5 and up sign a waiver, take off their shoes, get briefed on the rules and then enter the arena — a sspace with a padded floor and air-filled "bunkers" to hide behind during each five-minute battle.
Players are divided into two teams and given either a yellow or orange vest. The goal is to shoot others (though not in the face, per the rules) and avoid getting shot while trying to capture the other team's flags.
"It's basically the same thing as dodge ball," Hipp said.
The team with the most players still standing wins. Losers have to hold up their hands and go into the "dugout" until the next game starts. Referees watch each battle to enforce rules and let players know when they've been shot — since they might not feel the foam dart during the heat of battle.
You can bring your own foam dart gun, or get a one- or two-shot gun at no extra cost from Dart Town Arena. Higher-capacity guns cost more to rent.
The business has a play area for toddlers, seating where adults can view the battles and hot dogs and other snacks for sale. Dart Town Arena also offers birthday and corporate parties with two hours of playtime and food served in a private party room.
This is the first business for Hipp, 24, and his wife, Allison Keeler, 21, who have a 19-month-old daughter, Emersyn Hipp.
"[Owning a business] is something I said I wanted to do my whole life," said Corey Hipp, who got his high school equivalency degree at age 16 and later was a professional motocross racer until an injury ended that career.
He said his mother, who's general manager of the Valmont Industries plant in Jasper, Tenn., has invested about $60,000 in the venture.
Hipp said his mother was enthusiastic about the business. His wife, however, didn't see the appeal — until she tried it recently.
"He was like, 'C'mon, just do it,'" she said. "I literally played for like an hour. OK, I see now why on Facebook we have [so many followers]."