Plans are moving forward for a new state-of-the-art baseball and softball training facility in southeast Baton Rouge, off Airline Highway at Barringers Court.
The facility will be the first D-Bat in Baton Rouge, a training franchise with more than 70 locations nationwide, says Hayden Jennings, a former professional baseball player within the Washington Nationals organization, who teamed up with Christopher Hicks to bring the business to the area.
D-Bat is a membership-driven business featuring a pro shop and 12 batting cages with 18-foot-nets, which are important to allow a full 12-foot arch in a softball pitch.
The two franchise partners met through the game, with Jennings coaching Hicks’ grandson, and both say they saw a need to bring the franchise to the Capital Region.
“I have an older son who played ball and now I have a grandson,” Hicks says. “When Hayden introduced me to D-Bat, I flew out to visit the facility in Dallas. It only took five minutes for me to say ‘Wow, I need that in Baton Rouge.’”
Along with offering standard private lessons and clinics that are typical of an indoor batting facility, the business will also offer virtual reality equipment and analytical equipment, allowing batters to track things like the exit velocity from hitting the ball, launch angle and bat speed.
“The equipment we’re offering to members, it’s equipment you see on a collegiate and major league level,” Hicks says. “Some of this is the same equipment professionals use on a day-to-day basis.”
D-Bat’s corporate market analysis of Baton Rouge indicated that southeast Baton Rouge would be the best location for the concept, which was convenient because Hicks has owned land on Barringers Court for more than a decade.
With a permit for $900,000 worth of construction granted earlier this week, Hicks is hoping to start construction soon and open in early November. The rezoning of the property was approved by the Planning Commission in December.
The two also plan to open additional locations in south Louisiana. Tentatively, they want to open a Denham Springs location in October 2021 and a Lafayette facility in October 2022.
“We want to play kids as long as they want,” Jennings says. “If they want to go to high school and college, we can share numbers with colleges as a recruiting tool.”