Business

Former Patriot Ty Law in business with a bounce

Josh Cohen, 11, stepped off a 20-foot Launch Tower, landing on an air-filled stuntman's bag at Launch Trampoline Park in Watertown.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Josh Cohen, 11, stepped off a 20-foot Launch Tower, landing on an air-filled stuntman's bag at Launch Trampoline Park in Watertown.

When Ty Law was playing for the Patriots, the team discouraged potentially dangerous off-field activities — like, say, jumping on a giant trampoline or falling off a 20-foot tower like a Hollywood stuntman.

Now, the three-time Super Bowl champion is making up for lost time.

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Law is unveiling plans Tuesday for four new locations of Launch Trampoline Park, a business he cofounded in 2012. Based in Warwick, R.I., Launch already has six parks along the East Coast, including one in Norwood and another in Watertown that opened in January with a two-story stunt tower.

The expansion will add parks in Springfield, Andover, Milford, Conn., and Hackensack, N.J., this fall and bring the company’s total to 11, when combined with a previously announced project in Asheville, N.C.

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It also will make for a total of 10 indoor trampoline parks built or planned in Massachusetts since 2010, when Los Angeles-based Sky Zone Franchise Group opened the state’s first. Sky Zone now operates four in Massachusetts and has another under construction in Kingston. A third company, Altitude Trampoline Park of Fort Worth, opened a location in Billerica last year.

Despite having little previous business experience, Law and cofounder Rob Arnold are establishing Launch as an important player in an industry experiencing a growth spurt.

“We had an idea of where this was going, but it was still taking a chance,” said Law, who played 10 of his 15 NFL seasons in New England. “We got in at the right time.”

Tanner Creelman, from Weston, celebrated his eleventh birthday doing a back flip into the Foam Pit at Launch Trampoline Park.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Tanner Creelman, from Weston, celebrated his eleventh birthday doing a back flip into the Foam Pit at Launch Trampoline Park.

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Law nearly went the route of many retired athletes and became a restaurateur, but he took an interest in the trampoline business in 2011 over drinks with Arnold, a friend who had recently taken his young children to a park in Florida during a vacation.

Law and Arnold, who owned a construction company, agreed after further research that trampoline parks had the potential to become the next generation of family amusement. They believed a well-run business could grow into a new version of Chuck E. Cheese’s, the arcade chain with 560 locations worldwide.

Launch is a long way from that kind of scale, but trampoline parks in general are mushrooming. The International Association of Trampoline Parks, formed in 2012 to establish best practices for an exploding industry, projects the number of parks in the United States will grow 33 percent this year, to about 460.

“I don’t know if we’ll replace other forms of entertainment, but trampoline parks are another place for families to have a good time while being active, and they’re good for all ages,” said Bethany Evans, the trade group’s deputy director. “We’re the new kid on the block in the amusement industry.”

Trampoline parks typically feature large swaths of bouncy floors and walls inside warehouse-style buildings. The Launch location in Watertown, for example, is 36,000 square feet, divided into areas for playing dodgeball, dunking a basketball, or simply jumping around. Admission costs $15 for an hour or $25 for two — typical prices for the industry. An extra $5 buys access to the stunt tower, which invites patrons to free fall onto an enormous air bag.

Some medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, advise against trampoline use, citing injury risks. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded 3,084 emergency room visits last year, including eight fatalities, because of trampoline accidents, though only one-tenth of the injuries occurred at “sports or recreation places.” The commission collects data from a small sample of hospitals and estimates the true national injury total was more than 100,000.

Safety measures at Launch include spring covers and double-layered trampolines — just in case the first one tears. Insurance costs eat up 3 to 5 percent of a park’s gross revenue, said Arnold, who shares the chief executive title with Law and oversees business operations.

Nevertheless, demand is increasing, and business is good.

Sky Zone, the nation’s biggest trampoline park chain, has 91 facilities in the United States and 53 more in various stages of planning and construction.

“We’re growing fast, and the whole industry is growing,” said Sky Zone chief executive Jeff Platt. “People like to jump around.”

Meanwhile Launch has an expansion vision that hinges on selling franchise licenses for $50,000 and collecting 6 percent of gross revenues at independently owned parks.

The goal is to sell 160 franchise licenses in the next five years.

“There’s a couple other companies that are ahead of us right now, but I just know we’re going to blow up,” Arnold said.

“We should be number two in the country, in terms of numbers, by this time next year.”

Audrey Cusano, 2, and Briana Guzman, 12, jumped on a trampoline in Watertown.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Audrey Cusano, 2, and Briana Guzman, 12, jumped on a trampoline in Watertown.

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.
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