From laser tag to bowling, a whole lot of family fun is headed to Olathe.
At its meeting Tuesday evening, the Olathe City Council approved two special use permits that will bring a mega-entertainment center near Bass Pro Shop and expand another entertainment complex near Santa Fe and Interstate 35.
Dallas-based Main Event Entertainment is set to open in the Olathe Gateway shopping center on the south side of 119th Street and west of Kansas City Road.
The $15 to $16 million center, which is just shy of 50,000 square feet, will feature state-of-the-art bowling, multi-level laser tag, billiards, more than 100 arcade games and a restaurant with a bar.
There are about 25 Main Event locations around the country, with the first area site to open in Independence later this year. Olathe will be the area’s second location.
Adam Smith, a representative for Main Event Entertainment, told the council that there are tentative plans for a third location to open in the area.
A promotional video he showed the council indicated the colorful indoor venue is a popular destination for family outings and date nights.
Council members expressed enthusiasm about the new entertainment center and because it is such a massive investment, they approved a 30-year special use permit, rather than a 15-year one as the Planning Commission had recommended.
Smith had asked the council to consider an indefinite special use permit for the site, but the council did not feel comfortable approving one for that amount of time.
Smith told The Star that construction on the new venue is expected to begin as soon as possible and if all goes well, he foresees the Olathe Main Event location opening up in 2016.
“We’re very excited to be in Olathe — we couldn’t have picked a better second location for the area,” Smith said. “It’s right off the highway, so it’s very visible, and having it next to Bass Pro is wonderful. Olathe is a very family-oriented community, which is important to us.”
Later in the meeting, the council approved a five-year special use permit for Advanced Laser Tag, which is located in the Olathe Landing shopping center at 2026 E. Santa Fe St.
The entertainment center, which features a two-story laser tag arena, video arcade and snack bar, opened in 2003. The new permit not only renews the special use for the existing business but will allow for a significant expansion.
The venue will expand its business into the vacant space to the east of the existing facility and renovate the current space, adding indoor attractions.
With the special use permit, the council reviewed stipulations that would allow the facility to open an outdoor go-kart track within the underutilized parking lot behind the building. It would be fenced and include a pavilion, repair building and fuel tank.
The council, however, chose not to approve those stipulations this week, because of concern about whether a go-kart track was appropriate for a shopping center and whether the activity would cause too much noise for residents living in nearby apartments.
City staff members promised the council they would look into their questions and come back with answers at a later date. Based on that information, the council then will decide whether to allow the go-karts.
Jason Behm, operator of Advanced Laser Tag, told the council the facility plans on using modern go-karts that are quieter than typical ones.
“I’m completely convinced we’ll be within the noise ordinance and there won’t be a problem at all,” he said.
He added that the go-kart track would be open seven to eight months per year, weather permitting. It would abide by the city’s noise ordinance, remaining open on weekdays until 10 p.m. and on Friday and Saturdays until 11 p.m.
While most of the council was still uncomfortable with the idea and wanted more information, Behm did have a couple immediate supporters.
“I like the idea and I’m comfortable with the sound,” said Councilman Larry Campbell. “We have a noise ordinance and if they exceed that ordinance, they’ll have to stop. I think this is a good place for go-karts and I want that area to prosper.”
Behm told the council that the go-kart track is a key part of his expansion.
“I think this location in the city is unique and I want to help revitalize the area by bringing customers, which will bring revenue,” he said.
The council agreed the shopping center needs a breath of life, with the mayor urging Behm not to give up hope on the go-karts.
“My family is a customer of yours, we love the place,” Mayor Michael Copeland told him. “We (the governing body) just need more details to make sure we’re comfortable with it. We want you to go forth and be successful.”