MANATEE COUNTY — For Ted Rose, there’s no sound better than the crack of ball hitting a baseball back.
The former professional baseball player is sharing his passion for the sport — and skills — with the East County community.
He and partners Duane and Lisa Burns celebrated the grand opening of their new venture and the East County’s newest sports complex, Strike Zone, Oct. 2. The $2 million, 16,500-square-foot facility on Lena Road features a plethora of baseball experiences, including nine batting cages with pitching machines.
“We’re catering to the baseball side of everything, but we’ve got a little bit of everything for everybody,” said Rose, managing partner. “We can give you everything IMG can at reduced prices.”
Guests to the facility first are greeted at the Burnsy’s Box Office — named after Duane’s son, Chase — where they check in and pay and also can purchase concessions and other items. Rose’s son, Casey, has his own “Casey’s Corner” sign nearby.
“It was a fun way to tie our sons into it,” Rose said with a grin.
To the right, the building opens to a large indoor batting area with walls painted the color of a freshly cut baseball field. There, guests can practice their swing at six membership rental cages, which are paid for by time increment or through a monthly membership that provides unlimited batting practice. Two cages have softball machines to accommodate ladies’ fast pitch or men’s slow pitch practices.
The nets between the cages slide back to allow for infield work when needed, Rose said.
Two more batting cages are designed for teaching and are set up for T work and mound work for pitching. The facility’s only coin-operated cage, called the “Fun Zone,” adds a unique flair to the mix.
“Anything that can be broken in this cage, we want you to break,” Rose said, pointing to pumpkins, an old car and other items ready for a beating. “This cage has put smiles on the faces of people from ages 7 to 50.”
Rose, who has offered private baseball lessons for the last eight years, will continue providing coaching services at Strike Zone, whether a child simply wants to be as good as his friends or dreams of being a major league player.
To the left of the Box Office, guests enter the “Fun and Fitness” zone, where athletes can use weights and other strength and agility equipment to improve their game, whatever the sport. In the fitness area, Baltimore Orioles strength and conditioning coach John Selzler, owner of Opening Day Training, will work with athletes individually. The room also boasts one of three Kinesis machines in the state.
The “fun” area has a room for birthday parties, as well as arcade and other games and the area’s only jump-shot trampoline basketball machine.
And while their children train, parents can head upstairs above the Burnsy Box Office to the Clubhouse. The upstairs room offers a birds-eye view of practice areas throughout the facility, so parents can watch while enjoying refreshments, hooking up to WiFi to finish up work or watching television on three 109-inch screens.
“This is the man-cave,” Rose said of the room.
There, Strike Zone patrons also can utilize two golf simulators to practice their swing or to get golf instruction from the owners of Dream Links Golf, who are offering their services at the facility.
The facility also has a pro shop, where guests can purchase sports equipment, clothing and other items.
The family-run business is open seven days a week.
ADDRESS: 5028 Lena Road
HOURS: 3-10 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 12:30-10 p.m., Wednesdays; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturdays’ 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays
WHAT MAKES THIS BUSINESS UNIQUE: “We’ve surrounded ourselves with the upper 1% in what we do,” said co-owner Ted Rose. “We think we’ve got the cream of the crop.”