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Playing my 150th Arena – Laser Tag of Baton Rouge and Metairie

It’s difficult for me to separate the two amazing experiences I had playing at Laser Tag of Baton Rouge first and then Laser Tag and Games of Metairie as my 150th arena. Together they made for truly memorable experience tagging in Louisiana.

They are sister arenas, both featuring a Photon alpha field arena design and operating with Laserforce. Playing at these sites was definitely one of the most remarkable highlights of this trip. So let me start at the beginning as I was driving Friday night on my way to Baton Rouge.

I got an unexpected message from Stephen Strickland asking me if I was going to be in New Orleans the next day. I was surprised because I don’t often make my travel plans public in advance and so I replied “Actually, yes. How did you know?” And then the pieces started to come together. I had called ahead to the manager in Baton Rouge to ask questions about the alpha field and told him I was coming down to Louisiana because of my blog and my goal to play in all 50 states. He in turn mentioned my unusual call to Davor Franicevich, the owner of the two sites (and also a past president of the International Laser Tag Association), who happened to see Stephen the next day and asked if he knew of anyone who was traveling the country playing laser tag. And his answer was yes, he knew it must have been me who called. It is so amazing to me that through laser tag I have met or corresponded with people not only all over the country, but all over the globe and I am appreciative that Stephen connected those dots.

So Friday night I continued my way down to Laser Tag of Baton Rouge.

Let me tell you, the site is breathtaking. There is something so remarkably special about being able to play on an alpha field so many years after Photon. And as near as I can tell (someone please correct me if I am wrong) I believe there are only four left – granted three are not original – and I am counting Baton Rouge, Metairie, Lazer Blaze in Kentucky and XP Lasersport in Maryland. I have been lucky enough to play at them all.

This space felt new and familiar all at once.

The site is 7500 square feet and spread over two floors (as you would expect) and when I arrived in Baton Rouge Kevin gave me a very thorough tour. We went up onto the observation deck and he showed me the pods that allow people who are not in the game (such as young kids or parents) to be able to target the players from above in order to have some of the game experience without having to step onto the field.

Here they are operating with Laserforce gen 7 packs. I swear I grabbed this one first without even looking…check out the name of the pack!

I played three games in Baton Rouge before calling it a night. In between games I learned about the older packs hidden behind panels in the walls (more on that later) and got to tour the entire place. They truly treated me like a VIP.

I regret not taking photos of the Baton Rouge entryway which was a blue, space-age design and very cool. I was perhaps distracted by my conversations with the staff who were very knowledgeable and set me up with some great souvenirs to take back home.

So after spending the night at my hotel in Baton Rouge and getting up the next day to play a couple more tag sites in route, I ended up at Laser Tag and Games in Metairie. This would become my 150th laser tag arena!

While I was taking this pic outside the building the owner, Davor, was waiting inside to greet me. Such a nice surprise! He welcomed me and we sat to talk about the facility and were joined by Stephen shortly. Davor was such a wealth of information. He told me some of the history of Laser Tag of Metairie.

The location where we were sitting was not the original site. Originally there had been a Photon location in this town and it was eventually purchased by someone else who operated using Veqtor tag equipment. Some time later Davor purchased the business and they transitioned to using Stunner. Now, remember I mentioned Kevin told me there were older packs behind the walls in Baton Rouge? Well, it turns out that if we had been able to get to them those are the packs we would have found. Truly remarkable! Incidentally, I did get a peek at some cool Veqtor history (these are two of only four of these bases in existence).

And there were Stunner phasers and bases decorating the briefing/vesting areas. So cool to see this laser tag history up close as up until now I’ve only been able to see these systems first hand at the Laser Tag Museum.

Now, eventually they opened a second location in Baton Rouge and transitioned to Laserforce. This was only a short time before Hurricane Katrina came through and devastated the New Orleans area where Metairie is located. Katrina destroyed the original site on the former Photon arena. In fact the Laser Tag of Baton Rouge location was used as a site to house people who were displaced during the catastrophe. I can’t even imagine. This sign was resurrected from the old site and is on display now in Metairie.

But there is no keeping laser tag down. Davor rebuilt Laser Tag and Games of Metairie in its current spot where they have constructed an alpha field using blueprints based on the old Baltimore Photon.

Now, my interest is mostly in the laser tag, but I have to acknowledge that attention to detail was paid not only to the arena, but also to all the other attractions in the arcade area, from the bumper cars, lazer frenzy, rollerball bowling and food, every part of the building has a unique look that has been carefully considered.

And this extends even to little details like the unique way that packs are stored in the vesting room. Rather than placing the tag packs on plastic arms for storage they have custom designed a unique system for less wear and tear on the vests. Using heavy duty pipe that has been covered with carpet the vests rest in a way that causes less stress and even the phaser cords are tethered in such a way so that they won’t drop to the ground.

The game start, lights and music can all be operated with a single touch control panel.

And there are strategic operations in place to pump the fog through a well thought out system that lets it pour out evenly from below the towers. And let’s talk towers and arena atmosphere…

Stepping onto this field was like stepping right into Photon. The only difference between the Metairie and Baton Rouge arenas appears to be that the ceilings are higher in Baton Rouge allowing for a bit more space. Although Metairie does have a few more bases. But both have the classic design hallmarks, most notably the lights and the towers.

One of the details of the arena lighting is the “shark gill lighting” that looks like this from above…

And like this from inside the arena…

After touring the whole building (including the back room where there is a lot of cool signage from years past)…

…I was ready to get into a game. Stephen took my Laserforce card to sign me in so I could get the traveling achievement and commented that since I was playing as a level six going into this public game might be rough on me. I told him it was fine because it wasn’t about that and we went in and had a great time! And as it turned out…not so rough after all.

Playing at this site was wonderful and I am very appreciative that I got to learn so much about this center. Thank you, Davor for taking the time to share the history, highlights and inner workings with such a great tour of your facility. I am thoroughly impressed with Laser Tag of Baton Rouge and Laser Tag and Games of Metairie. I had a fantastic time and will most certainly plan to return again when I next pass through Louisiana!

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