Thick white paint covers the limestone pillars in Kansas City’s underground, a color intended to brighten up the surroundings and make a dark cave more inviting.
Except at Jaegers Paintball.
In the combat area, the pillars are awash in colors. That’s a testament to the popularity of a Kansas City establishment operating underground for more than two decades, when paintball was just beginning to build an intense fan base.
The competitors at Jaegers come in organized bunches: Muddy Water Boys. Creepy Buddies. Bobwhite. Voodoo.
“They’re more of what we call scenario teams who come in here in February because you don’t want to be outside,” said company president Dave Latier. “Scenarios might bring 100 people, and that’s on the low side.”
The scenario might be to re-enact D-Day or to make like zombies. One tournament coming this fall: Earthlings vs. Martians.
Here’s the brief history: Rainy weather bums out paintballers, and the summer of 1993 delivered more rain than one group of local players could stand. It was called the Great Flood, and it drove the players to answer a newspaper ad pitching space for lease at 9300 NE Underground Drive.
Jaegers opened for business the following year.
A gray kitty named Gracie lives there, often perched on the lobby counter.
“She has free run of six acres,” said Jaegers mechanic Mike Baker, who has worked cave jobs of one type or other for more than 30 years.
Once a paintballer fired at Gracie as a prank. “He was banned for life,” Latier said.
Last month four women stepped to the counter to get armed and suited up. Thirty bucks apiece got them the basic airgun, helmet and 100 paintballs, a price Kenie Roach was willing to pay for the night.
“It’s not the normal dinner and a movie,” said Roach 24, of Independence. “But I’ve done this before. I like it.”
Her sister and their two girlfriends were first-timers, though it didn’t show. Roach stepped out of the second round of combat with a big, blueish blotch on the bill of her helmet.
A kill shot, for sure.
9300 NE Underground Drive. Prices vary depending on type of rental. jaegers.com. 816-452-6600