LASERTRON Arenas Vs Wooden Arenas

by The LASERTRON Team

One of the largest investments you will make in your laser tag facility is the arena. Providing an exciting multi-level arena with a lot of "WOW!" factor is critical for the long-term success of your facility ( Click here to learn more about the benefits of multi-level arenas). The right arena will keep players coming back again and again. The wrong arena will limit your ability to attract older customers and reduce the frequency of repeat play by existing customers.

In our history, LASERTRON has experimented with many different arena styles and construction methods both in our own LASERTRON Interactive Entertainment Center and in our client's sites. We have tried a variety of materials to create the perfect arena that is exciting to play and easy to maintain.

LASERTRON now builds our arenas utilizing a steel superstructure, with MDF (medium density fiberboard) obstacles sheathed in plastic. What are the advantages of building a steel arena over the more traditional wood-framed plywood arenas?

Durability

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Nothing beats the durability of steel, plastic and MDF. The materials will last for years. Highly resistant to water damage. Steel and plastic are easy to clean--just wipe it down. Five years from the date of installation, when you walk into your LASERTRON arena, it will look almost the same as the day it opened.

Plywood Arenas: Requires significant ongoing maintenance and re-painting. Highly susceptible to water damage, chipping and deterioration. Difficult to clean painted plywood well. A busy plywood arena will immediately begin to show wear and tear.

Quality of Components

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Steel, plastic and MDF are very consistent. Components are produced under factory conditions, ensuring accuracy and quality. Finished components are shipped to the site and installed. Steel will not warp, crack, twist, bow, rot, shrink, or swell. Steel and plastic are impervious to termites and vermin. Mold and fungus will not grow on the steel or plastic components. MDF is more resistant than plywood to moisture, making it resistant to mold and fungus.

Plywood Arenas: Plywood parts may be custom sized (cut) on site or in a factory setting. The tolerance for wood is much lower resulting in more variable sizes. This makes building straight much more difficult. Plywood and wood-framing are highly susceptible to warping, cracking, twisting, bowing, and rotting. Wood will shrink or swell due to small changes in temperature and humidity. Termites and vermin are a greater problem in any wood built arena. Mold and fungus are of growing concern to a number of Americans with allergy related problems.

Warranty

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Because of the durable nature of the materials used, LASERTRON provides a five-year warranty on all arena components. We have never replaced a component in one of these style arenas, but the security of the warranty is there for the operator.

Plywood Arenas: Try and find a company that will warrant all of the parts and surfaces of a wooden arena used for laser tag play. It is unlikely you will find such a warranty. If you do, it won't warranty against normal wear and tear. No plywood arena builder could afford to do this.

Maintenance

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: A well-constructed steel arena will require minimal maintenance to stay in optimal condition. It will look new for years. Neither the powder-coated steel nor the plastic will require painting. MDF provides an ideal surface for painting and can last years without retouching. All MDF corners exposed to traffic are protected by our custom moulded plastic extrusions.

Plywood Arenas: Plywood gets a lot of abuse, especially in a tight maze. Plywood arenas will require considerable annual maintenance to stay safe and continue looking attractive and new for your guests. The wood is prone to chipping and will need to be re-painted regularly to maintain a high quality appearance. If your arena looks old and beat up, you won't be able to raise your admission prices. Worse, you may actually have to lower prices to keep players coming back.

Construction

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: In our experience, you are much better off with a professional construction team dedicated to installing laser tag arenas. It just makes common sense that a group of people who perform the same or similar tasks over and over will be much better at that task. Our team has been building arenas for years, and we understand exactly what to do and what to expect. They will save you time and money. Operators who have insisted on building their own steel deck or arenas have typically ended up with contractors who cut corners. Saving money for an arena that is less durable, less safe or less playable is not in the best interest of your business.

Plywood Arenas: Local contractors can build a plywood arena. However, a local contractor will not have experience building a laser tag arena. It is a different and unique task. The construction is unusual and atypical for a local contractor. They are likely to charge more to build out your arena than a specialized team who focuses exclusively on laser tag construction. The local contractor won't understand the importance of building the arena correctly and may have minor errors or "fudges" in the arena. This will effect game play and ultimately, your revenues.

Moveability

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: If you move your facility or decide to remodel, almost all of the LASERTRON arena parts can be re-used easily.

Plywood Arenas: Because of construction techniques, moving a plywood arena is next to impossible. You will lose most of your investment if you are forced to move. You may even be forced to pay the building owner for removal and disposal of your arena if you move.

Second Level Size

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Steel has much higher strength to weight ratios than wood. This makes it easy to create large spans for a second level. Ramps and walkways can be very wide with little increase in cost. Your second level can easily contain the maximum allowable space for a mezzanine, increasing your available space without increasing your rent.

Plywood Arenas: Expensive to create large spans. Best for tighter "catwalk" walkways that result in less playability. Wide ramps and walkways are much more expensive.

Construction Speed

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Quality steel arenas are assembled on site using component pieces. Plastic, MDF and steel components are all prepared off-site. Minimal custom building on site. Our teams have arena construction down to a science. Most arenas (even large ones) can be assembled and installed within 7-10 days.

Plywood Arenas: Generally custom built on site. A high quality plywood arena will take much longer to build and install than a similar quality steel arena.

Appearance

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: In a well-designed arena, the nature of steel, MDF, and plastic pieces provide their own theming. They are attractive on their own. Use of steel parts provides your guests with a feeling they are actually playing the game on another world...not the illusion of another world. The pieces will also look new after many years and the brilliant colored plastic will not fade.

Plywood Arenas: Plywood is not attractive on its own and has little wow factor. Complex paint jobs, custom carving and added trim make up the illusion of theming. Obviously, such methods are not as durable as steel arenas. Imagine painting a room in your house. You want it to look nice for a long time. If you let a group of teenagers play laser tag regularly in that room in your house, how often would you need to repaint that room? Remember, repainting a heavily themed plywood laser tag arena is not just a case of getting out the rollers and doing it yourself. To give you arena the same quality appearance as when it first opened, you will have to hire an expensive professional artist to repaint and perform touch up work.

Playability

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: The advantages of steel make it easier to design a well-balanced, fair arena for the optimum team experience. Wide open expanses and meshed rails create an upper deck that is enjoyable, but not overpowering to the game.

Plywood Arenas: More difficult to design fair, balanced arenas due to construction limitations. Most multi-level plywood arenas are "cat-walk" style arenas, with very narrow walkways forming the second level.

Rails

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Steel mesh can be used. This makes it possible for players on the first level to tag players on the second level. It also makes the game more enjoyable for younger, shorter players who may not be able to fire or even see over the rails. Steel superstructure is virtually required to hold the weight of the steel mesh rails. Using steel mesh for the rails also allows us to increase the height from 42 inches to 48 inches. This increases the safety for smaller and younger players, as well as adults.

Plywood Arenas: Nothing really comparable can be constructed, so the owner is stuck with a solid rail on the second level. Players on the first floor are sitting ducks in such an arena. Solid rails give upstairs players a tremendous advantage over players on the first floor or ramps. This forces the owner to create either a very tight maze or end up with all of the players crowded together in small spaces on the second level. When players crowd together, injury and damage to the equipment will likely increase. One ineffective alternative, grates in the floor, is a potential hazard with some footwear. It is also nearly impossible to tag opposing players through the grates.

Ramps

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Ramps on steel arenas can be very wide. Ramps on recent LASERTRON designs are four feet up to eight feet wide, allowing two or more players to pass safely.

Plywood Arenas: Most ramps in all-wood arenas are less than four feet wide. When players meet on such a ramp, they almost have to brush against each other or the wall. Ramps are high traffic areas of your arena and this contact is unavoidable and leads to increased laser tag equipment repair costs and a greater chance of player injury.

Fire Safety

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Using steel as your foundation means you will have fewer fire safety concerns. Steel is already fire-rated. Wide expanses and easily viewable exits are more possible with a steel superstructure. The mesh used for rails on the ramps and second level dramatically increase exit visibility, making the LASERTRON arena easier to evacuate in an emergency. The plastic obstacle sheaths and joints are fire-rated. If desired, the MDF can also be fire-rated.

Plywood Arenas: Must use fire-rated and treated wood for platforms, ramps and framing at greater additional cost. More maze-like arenas, common in plywood arenas, are inherently less safe in the event of fire. Exits are obscured by solid walls and structures.

Sustainability

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: Want to build an environmentally friendly location? Construction systems utilizing structural steel are recycled, recyclable and reusable. According to the American Institute of Steel Construction, most steel contains about 97% recycled content. Plastic and steel arena components are engineered to spec, not cut out of sheets. There is minimal waste in the construction process. MDF is a product made of recycled wood, without some of the harsh chemicals (like formaldehyde) used in plywood creation.

Plywood Arenas: Plywood arenas cannot use much recycled content, if any. All wood arenas typically result in a lot of scrap waste. The more complex the arena design, the more wood is wasted.

Recyclable

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: The steel in your arena holds a great deal of financial value. You will be able to recoup part of your investment, even if your facility fails. The durable plastic arena parts can be sold to other laser tag facilities. In fact, the arena is so recyclable, some leasing companies have leased arenas to clients.

Plywood Arenas: A plywood arena cannot easily be moved or disassembled. As such, it has no value outside of its intended use. If your facility fails, you will not be able to recoup any money from your arena. In fact, you will have to pay the demolition charges to remove your arena.

Cost

LASERTRON Steel Arenas: A steel arena will initially cost 20-30% more than a truly comparable wooden arena. For the added durability and playability, you will save money if you plan to be in business more than 3-5 years. Even with an investment of $40,000 more for a steel arena, the long-term value and cost savings are greater than for wooden arenas.

Plywood Arenas: There are many options with plywood arenas, but for a high quality arena, the costs are high. If a low quality arena is built, it will be highly susceptible to competition from a higher quality arena. The arena is critical to the success of your attraction and business.

When you look at all the advantages, it is hard to imagine why anyone would build a plywood arena. Before LASERTRON perfected our multi-level arena design, some of our clients went with traditional plywood arenas built by other companies. The results have been consistent. The clients wish they would have gone with a LASERTRON multi-level steel arena.

LASERTRON could build plywood arenas. We could even make a greater profit on such arenas. But the right choice for our clients and for own facility is a steel arena. In addition, we have created four standard arena packages reducing the investment and simplifying the process of designing a multi-level steel arena for our clients.

When you are interested in finding out more about how LASERTRON can make your Mult-Level Arena dreams a reality, please contact a member of Your Advisement Team. LASERTRON has different styles of multi-level arenas available for your project. Consider our exciting Sport Arena Style, or a Custom Laser Tag Arena.

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