BOURNE — Ultimate Battleground LLC, an airsoft, paintball and laser tag business located off the Bourne Rotary, will be closing operations next month after 20 years in business.
“All of this hard work and it’s over because of something we can’t control,” William Belknap, the company’s operations manager, said Wednesday. “Something we can’t understand.”
Owner Robert Smith said Tuesday he could not go into why the property owner decided to ask the business to vacate for legal reasons. The business will officially close Oct. 31.
Ultimate Battleground’s location at 1 Rotary Circle S is part of a larger parcel that has been eyed for more than two decades as prime property for development.
In 1998, Lenord Cubellis applied to the Cape Cod Commission for a project called CanalSide Commons. At the time, the property was owned by the DeCicco family, but it was sold to Rotary Development LLC, a subsidiary of Stop & Shop, for $10 million in 2013.
At the beginning of 2019, Ultimate Battleground was told that its lease was going to be renewed for another three years, Belknap said. The lease was going to be signed in October, he said.
But when it came time to negotiate the lease, Smith said Stop & Shop told him the lease would not be renewed.
Smith said the decision wasn’t a total surprise, noting that the property owners would not give the business a long-term lease. For the past three months, he said, “it was pretty much over.”
The last walk-on weekend to play at Ultimate Battleground will be Oct. 5 and 6, while Autumn Justice XII on Oct. 12 and 13 will be the last event to be held at the field.
Smith said the business is looking to find another place to resume operations.
“Hopefully we can get somewhere else,” he said. Otherwise, “that’s it for paintball and laser tag on the Cape, which kind of creates a problem. It’s less for the kids to do.”
The business will continue to hold events elsewhere, but Smith said that doesn’t help those on Cape Cod, where they have been since 1998. Smith bought the business, known previously as Cape Cod Paintball, in 2009.
The business will soon begin the painful task of dismantling and removing everything from the site, Smith said. The aim is to store as much as possible, especially the equipment, in case they do find another place to go.
Michael Scott, the attorney representing Stop & Shop’s parent company, Ahold Delhaize, previously told selectmen that the company has been marketing the property to hotels and retail and office developers to no avail.
The uncertainty of infrastructure improvements has been the biggest hurdle in finding a tenant for the site, Scott said during an update to the board in January.
Judith Froman, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said the board had not heard any recent updates from Stop & Shop in regards to the property.
Selectman Peter Meier said he has not heard anything from Stop & Shop representatives since last spring. There were no firm plans in place as to what the owners wanted to do with the property, he said.
Meier said it is up to the private developer as to what they will do, but he’d like to see some “positive use” of the site that “brings revenue to the town.”
What he wouldn’t like, he said, is something that will cause traffic congestion off the already busy Bourne Rotary.
Meier, who has never been to the facility, said he is setting up a meeting with a few staff members of Ultimate Battleground next week. He hopes that the Board of Selectmen can help address some of their concerns.
Belknap said he understands the town wants a larger development on the land in order to make more money in property taxes. But until something is planned for the location, it doesn’t make sense to close down a business that is already operating there, he said.
“We’ll still hold out hope that there will still be a chance the landowners can be brought back to the negotiating table and that they will change their minds,” he said.
Scott did not respond for comment.
The field has been home to a unique community built up of people of all ages who bond over the sport, Belknap previously told the Times. The business has continuously grown over the years, even as recently as this summer, he said.
“Business is booming,” he said. “That’s why I’m still holding out hope.”
“We’re hoping for a miracle,” Smith said.
— Follow Beth Treffeisen on Twitter: @BTreffeisenCCT.
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