Most regular paintball player has seen a healthy dose of different fields - from outlaw fields in the neighbors backyard to professional woodsball fields to indoor arenas. While each field has its pros and cons, it seems that most players always can think of something to make a field better. Such thoughts inevitably lead to the thought, "Hey, maybe I should start my own field." When you lay down $50 for an entrance fee and 1000 paintballs, it feels like field owners must be making a killing - maybe a paintball field is the way to riches and carefree paintball enjoyment.
The reality is that paintball fields are not a guaranteed success and running a field is a lot of effort with no guarantee of a payday down the road. Countless fields have come and gone and those owners have learned that the "field owner's dream" is a lot more work and a lot riskier than they expected. There are, though many fields that have been successful for years and provide their owners with constant, enjoyable employment. You just have to be smart about starting it.
Before you start a field, you should consult the people that have done it before. Larry from GatSplat in Texas has written a wonderful article that discusses what it takes to start an indoor field with tons of advice and practical suggestions that's applicable to indoor and outdoor fields. He explains the basics of buying buildings to permits to installing netting to identifying your target audience. It is a must read if you are even remotely considering a field.
Another great resource is forums where field owners share their practical knowledge. The best is at PBNation.com in the field owners section. Read through the threads and see what it takes. The shock to many potential field owners is the price - expect to put in at least $50,000 (at a bear minimum) to get your field up and going, not counting the land. The fields that really stand out can cost ten times that amount.
Field ownership is possible, but you need to be smart and plan ahead. The big thing to keep in mind is that a paintball field is a business that happens to focus on paintball, not a paintball field that has a business on the side; if you don't like business, don't even start.