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Xtreme Fun Center Where: 13211 93rd St. N, Largo • Hours: 6-9 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 6-11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday. • Price: Starts at $7.

Other details

• Unlimited play wrist bands, $15; batting cages start at $1.50.

• More information: Visit www.XtremeFunCenter.com

Laser tag and more center in Largo is Xtreme Fun

Four teams of 10 warriors, all glowing in the dark and shrouded in fog, run through the laser tag arena.

From his position inside the labyrinth, a tricky, mazelike path, Jon Weiland, 9, zaps his buddy, Nick Chester, 10. But it isn't long until Nick is zapped again — this time by his own mother, Amanda Chester.

"Now that was an adrenaline rush,'' said Chester, 51.

It's just another Sunday at Xtreme Fun Center on Ulmerton Road. The business, going into its fifth year, is owned by the McCabe family of Seminole.

On most days, you can expect to see Steve McCabe, a former national advertising executive for Cox Target Media, inside the 20,000-square-foot former warehouse that is home to the largest laser tag arena in the state at 6,300 square feet.

In case the craze has passed you by, laser tag is an indoor sport, played one-on-one or with teams. Participants tag each other with infrared devices. The player with the highest number of hits wins.

McCabe, a Long Island, N.Y., native, gave up his suits and corporate travel to work full-time in the venture back in 2004. His wife, Cristina, works as a senior account executive for Marriott Hotels.

If school is not in session, chances are you'll also find at least one or two of the McCabe children, Kati, 16, twins Michael and Matthew, 13, or Andrew, 11, helping their dad.

"I wanted to do something that would keep me home with my kids,'' McCabe said. "My father was never home because of his job. I didn't want that to happen to my children.''

Xtreme Fun Center also includes batting cages and an assortment of arcade games.

Three years ago, when the boys were attending Oakhurst Elementary School, Xtreme Fun Center added an afterschool care program. It now has 48 participants.

Some get-togethers are a bit peculiar like the time in 2007 when the center held its first wedding on April Fools' Day. However, the core business is generated through children's birthday parties.

Though his work attire now includes shorts and flip-flops, McCabe acknowledges that operating a family business isn't exactly a day at the beach.

"When you work for someone else, you're stressed about meeting someone else's goals," he said. "With this, we're stressed about staying afloat.''

McCabe was dismayed over the recent closing of Laser Eclipse of Clearwater, a major competitor. The company, based on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard in Clearwater, shut its doors, at the end of last year.

"It was the first place I played laser tag, and we loved their facility," he said. "Even though they were our competition, we were sad.''

Would he start the business over again?

"Especially right now, it's tough, but, yes, I'd do it all again," he said. "It's worth it for the kids.''

By the numbers

Xtreme Fun Center serves up a lot more than just laser tag. For example:

250 Ice cream cakes served in 2008.

2,200 Pizzas ordered in 2008.

24,000 Fliers handed out by the McCabe family to market the business since its inception.

2,300 Wristbands sold in 2008.

32,500 Highest score in one laser tag game.

Laser tag and more center in Largo is Xtreme Fun 01/13/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 8:39pm]
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