By Greg Klein STAFF WRITER
---- — After running NY Bounce House renting party equipment for more than five years, Oneonta resident Rex Layton said he knew the next step was to open a on-site entertainment center.
“It was about putting everything together,” said Layton, a 1988 graduate of O’Neill High School in Walton and a part-time fireman in Oneonta. “I already own the equipment. I wanted to keep it in one place. I wanted to have a central location. I wanted to offer something for the area that so many people have talked about doing, but no one has put together until now.”
The result is America’s Xtreme Entertainment Center on state Highway 28 in the Cooperstown location that used to be a Corvette dealership. The new business opened in June and Layton said he thinks it will do even better next season.
“I didn’t get it opened as early as I wanted, because I had some trouble with my permits,” he said. “I had to make sure I could run it at this location, so I was holding off on my rate cards and things like that. I feel like the state took too long on the permits, and that really slowed me down, but word is starting to get out.”
Americas Xtreme is both an indoor and outdoor entertainment center, with six bounce houses inside and five more outside. It has a mechanical bull, a full arcade, a zipline course and a blacklight mini-golf course.
“The blacklight mini-golf course is an attraction in itself,” he said. “And we have this new attraction called archery tag. It is the hot new thing in entertainment centers this year. You can play like laser tag, but with archery sets.”
Layton said the center, which is open every day but Monday, is so big, he worries that people driving by are not getting the full effect.
“Sometimes they drive by and think we are closed. Or they can’t see what we have inside. I have been coaching my employees to get out to the parking lot when they see someone to tell them we are open.”
Although business isn’t where he wants it yet, Layton said the feedback has been great.
“What is really encouraging to me is the people who have come in have loved it, so I think it is going to go viral,” he said. “They say they can’t believe how big it is. And we’re not just for kids. Adults have loved it too. I had one person tell me it was like a Dave and Busters on steroids.
“It is a great place for a birthday party too,” he added.
For the busy fall season, Layton said he is planning a renaissance fair, a car show and an Octoberfest. He said he is reaching out to the local wineries and breweries for partnerships.
In the winter, he said he would like to stay open on weekends and school holidays.
“I want to, but it will depend on expenses,” he said.
Long term, he said he wants to build his own site.
“I have been looking for a site in Oneonta where I could build for years,” he said. “Ideally, I would run that and a Cooperstown location.”