Baseball in Bayfield and Durango will never be the same.
At least, that’s what Choice Athletics owner Dennis Dempsie is counting on.
For years, Dennis watched local baseball teams struggle to stay competitive because of the short practice season afforded by local weather. For young athletes with aspirations to play college or even professional ball, this was a huge disadvantage.
He soon realized that local teams desperately needed an indoor training facility. He reached out to the SBDC to get information about starting a business. “They connected me with Bob Jagdfeld. He helped me get a business plan together and gave me a spreadsheet to work on projections and financials. We had several meetings, and Bob helped me fine tune the plan, so I could get a loan from Region 9.”
From there, it took about two and a half years for Dennis to find the right location. He looked at numerous facilities in Bayfield and Durango but struggled to find one that was reasonably priced and didn’t need extensive work to get up to code.
Toward the end of 2022, he finally found a 5,000-square-foot training facility in the Grandview area southeast of town. He started ordering all of the equipment in January, and in May of this year, Choice Athletics opened its doors.
The facility features batting cages with hand-fed or automatically operated machines, 3,200 square feet of turf space, a large indoor golf simulator, and tons of high-tech equipment. “Our technology allows players to track and manage pitching, hitting, and more. Our golf simulator features a 16’ x 10’ curved screen with more than 55 pro courses. It’s superior to anything in the area.”
The space can also be rented out for parties. The simulator has more than 30 games including bowling, horseshoes, corn hole, alien shooting, and more.
As the cold weather arrives, Dennis is optimistic that business will continue to pick up. The Fort Lewis Girls Softball Team recently signed an agreement to use the facility several nights a week for practice, so Choice Athletics is officially a college training facility. Dennis is hopeful that other teams will soon follow suit, and in the coming years, he plans to expand to include an athletic training area complete with space for weight training, stretching, and more.
If this like your dream, Dennis offers this advice, “Do your research. Reach out to the SBDC and other business owners. Even if they aren’t in your industry, there are plenty of tidbits you can pull from. Start talking to anyone, and you will find local support.”