In what might be a first, people rolled up to the podium at the Saline City Council meeting. Brady and JJ Carpenter wore giant inflatable balls as they rolled into the council chamber and up to the podium, where their father, Jason Carpenter was speaking in support of his request for a special land use permit.
Carpenter is the owner of Knockerball Michigan, a family recreation business with plans to expand to Saline in the near future. Carpenter owns a Knockerball facility in Livonia, where people wearing inflatable balls play several different games on a padded, indoor turn field. Knockerball also rents the equipment for people to play outdoor games. In most Knockerball games, people bounce off each other. Often, the last person standing is the winner. But there are also games like bubble soccer, sharks and minnows and capture the flag.
Carpenter plans to open his next Knockerball facility at 1305 E. Michigan Ave., in the same plaza that hosts Emagine Theatre and X-Golf Ann Arbor. Carpenter, his wife Eva, and their sons, are residents of Saline.
“We are excited about the prospect of opening a business here in Saline. We’re Saline residents. My son goes to Harvest and JJ goes to Pooh Corner. We really believe in Saline and hope to invest here and bring a really great family activity to the community. It’s great for exercise and keeps the kids off the video games,” Carpenter told council.
After having concerns about parking addressed, council voted 6-0 to approve the special land use to use the property for recreation.
Most of the operation’s hours will be for private parties. Parties generally serve 10 to 30 people. But there will be open play nights where people can play for as little as $15 an person. Typically, open play has between 10 and 50 people. Open play will be 5 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, 6 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 5-8 p.m. on Sundays. There will also be special hours during holidays and breaks.
Games are led by event coordinator.
One size of inflatable ball doesn’t fit all. There are three different sizes. The smallest fits kids as young as three years old.
Knockerball plans to have a party room that can be used for dining on food delivered or brought in. Knockerball will sell packaged snacks, bottled water and Gatorade.
There were no concerns given by members of the public during a brief hearing. The Knockerball facility does have the support of Paul Glantz, owner of Emagine Theatre.
“We strong support the applicant’s initiative and we believe that additional recreational elements in the shopping center will be synergistic with our business and benefit the quality of life in Saline,” Glantz wrote in a letter to City Treasurer Mickie Jo Bennett.
The Knockerball facility will be located in what used to be the Blockbuster Video space. It’s the southern most space along the western strip in the plaza.