An 18,000-square-foot play area comfortably crowded with inflatables and plenty of other playground obstacles sounds like a child’s dream indoor park.
In southern Scottsdale, it’s called The Stomping Ground.
Owner Christe Erickson-Davis opened the air-conditioned family hangout one year ago, on July 5 to be exact; and since, she has fostered a community of families and familiar, smiling faces.
“I wanted to make sure we were really a stomping ground for parents or grandparents, not just a destination place,” she said.
The Stomping Ground, located off Scottsdale Road just north of McDowell Road, features a massive play floor with five inflatables that seemingly graze the ceiling, bounce houses, a cafe and a toddler zone.
The Stomping Ground, catering to kids up to 8, also features plenty of parent seating and a dedicated room for parties.
The play area is consistently wiped down and sanitized by the small staff, who clean around the clock.
“We’re obsessed with cleaning all the time,” said Erickson-Davis’ sister, Terry Erickson. “I hear parents say, ‘I come here because it’s really clean.’”
“It really boils down to that: It’s clean and safe. And our kids love it,” Erickson-Davis added.
Erickson-Davis opened Stomping Ground because she wanted to open a play area that was not only kid-friendly, but also parent-friendly.
“We have a slogan ‘made for kids to keep parents happy,’ and that’s what we stand by,” she said.
It’s this focus on parents and their needs that Erickson-Davis said sets Stomping Ground apart from its competitors.
“My biggest goal was to make it a place that was easy for parents, so that they could get a break, too,” she said.
Seating is located in areas where the parents can easily watch their children.
“That’s what parents love, is that you can sit and watch them and not have to get up and chase them or follow them or go where they are the whole time,” Erickson-Davis said. “It’s a lot of work and you’re tired and parents want a break sometimes.”
The Stomping Ground’s other strength, according to Erickson-Davis, is parties.
“Parties are a huge part of what we are, celebrating kids events,” she said. “People have really embraced our parties because they are realizing even as parents that allows them to connect a little better.”
Erickson-Davis said the Stomping Ground has hosted around 200 parties since it opened, some of which have been for repeat customers.
Half of The Stomping Ground’s customers are regulars; the other half is comprised of one-time visitors.
Erickson-Davis said she’s had people come from all over the Valley, including Buckeye and Laveen, and she hopes to increase the number of returning customers over the next year.
Erickson-Davis started researching family entertainment centers around the time she gave birth to her first child, 10 years ago.
“I lived in Boston, I was a late parent, I had a baby, and I was like, ‘What do you do with a baby?’” she said.
Erickson-Davis then visited several indoor play areas in various states, including California, New York, Washington and Oregon.
It wasn’t until she looked closely at Scottsdale, where she grew up, that she decided it was the perfect place to open up The Stomping Ground.
“I always felt like there was a shortage of indoor play places here, and I always felt, ironically, Arizona should be the leader in the family entertainment center industry, not the lagger,” Erickson-Davis said.
Since it opened, The Stomping Ground has been very much so a family-run and family-supported business.
Erickson-Davis’ mother is an investor in the business.
Erickson-Davis’ nephews and their friends answer phones, greet guests and work at the cafe that overlooks the massive play area.
Erickson volunteers her time, helping to clean the facility, play with the kids and take on the role of birthday party hostess from time to time.
“I couldn’t have done this without my amazing family, friends and earliest Stompers,” Erickson-Davis said. “And, of course, my kids, who always remind me why I took this on.”
Erickson-Davis said she can’t take full credit for the business’ success; she thanks the many families who continue to return week after week.
“From a personal milestone perspective, it’s incredibly cool to know that we’re becoming a part of people’s stories in life—and it is a big deal. It’s like, ‘Hey, remember when you were 3 and you had your party at The Stomping Ground?’ Now we’re part of their story and they’re a huge part of our story,” she said.
Erickson-Davis would like to expand The Stomping Ground’s services to include drop-off daycare.
“We’re excited to see where it goes,” she said.
The Stomping Ground charges $15 for two hours of play.
Parties range from $299 to $399, depending on the number of children and adults.