Indoor Baseball Training Facility Proposed for Sturgeon Bay

A veritable who’s who of area baseball coaches made up the majority of the audience at the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club on March 15 as Kent Berkley, his wife Michelle Munson, and their teenage son Isaac presented their idea for an indoor baseball and softball facility called Complete Game Academy.

Berkley is a lawyer from the St. Louis, Mo., area, but has been coming to Door County since he was a child. He also has a passion for baseball and has played for, coached and organized teams. The 56-year-old Berkley said he continues to play “old man” ball.

“At my age to keep playing, you’ve really got to have it in your blood,” he told the group.

Berkley said they are looking at three different sites for the proposed complex, and he said he would like to have it open by Sept. 1.

“We are trying to see if Door County and Sturgeon Bay are ready for this trend, people doing academies to advance baseball skills,” he said. “To really excel at baseball, there has to be a planned aspect to it for the entire year. That’s what this is designed to do.”

The concept is to sell discounted packages to teams to practice their skills year round, as well as being open to individuals of all ages to hone their skills.

“My thoughts in having a program like this, it fills a couple of voids,” said Dan Lake, coach of the Sturgeon Bay High School baseball program. “We already have a summer baseball program for a lot of these kids, but what we don’t have is somewhere for kids to be coached year round.”

Lake continued by saying, “We seem to have lost some of the pizazz and interest and excitement about baseball” and that too many kids at the 12- to 14-year age range are “diverted” to other sports.

“This county has always had some really, really talented players,” said Lake. “I truly believe that if you have a facility like this…it will bring back the excitement, the fun that you need to have when you play.”

Lake said he knows of parents who drive their baseball-playing kids to Appleton twice a week to participate in an indoor baseball program there.

“What I can tell you about kids who participate in programs like this versus kids who don’t, it’s like a night and day difference,” Lake said. “Why would we not want to capture that? Keep it at home. It’s good for everybody.”

Sturgeon Bay resident Chris Kellems asked how members of a working class community such as Sturgeon Bay could afford the CGA programs. Berkley said there are foundations out there who give grants to sports programs, and he could envision grants for teams to take advantage of team package programs at the facility.

Kellems also asked if the family had considered catering to other segments of the sporting community such as golfers.

Berkley said several people have mentioned the need for a place where golfers can practice their game.

Others in the audience, while praising the idea of a baseball facility, said the area is too small to support the facility and the only way it would work is if the facility were flexible enough to open to soccer, football and basketball training.

Both Berkley and Munson pointed out that baseball is their true passion and that’s really what they want do.

“If you’re not careful, you lose your identity,” Berkley said.

However, he said he would take those ideas under advisement before proceeding.

“We really want to try to make this happen,” he said.

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