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posted: 3/2/2013 5:30 AM

Rosemont's new athletic training facility drawing crowds

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  • This is one of two fields at the Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.

       This is one of two fields at the Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Elmhurst College head baseball coach Joel Southern leads his team during a practice at the Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.

       Elmhurst College head baseball coach Joel Southern leads his team during a practice at the Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • With Zach Tsiodras, left, catching, Elmhurst College head baseball coach Joel Southern runs a drill at Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.

       With Zach Tsiodras, left, catching, Elmhurst College head baseball coach Joel Southern runs a drill at Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Kevin Bellew steps on the plate as catcher Zach Tsiodras awaits a throw during an Elmhurst College baseball practice at Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.

       Kevin Bellew steps on the plate as catcher Zach Tsiodras awaits a throw during an Elmhurst College baseball practice at Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

The final piece of Rosemont's athletic complex, the Dome at the Ballpark, is open and abuzz with activity, officials said Friday.

The seven-story dome, located at 34 Jennie Finch Way just north of the intersection of Balmoral Avenue and Pearl Street, encloses a 140,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art indoor baseball and softball arena that officials boast is the largest in North America. It's part of the larger Ballpark at Rosemont, which is home to the stadium where the Chicago Bandits play women's professional fastpitch softball.

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"It's getting a lot of buzz," Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens said. "I think that people understand that it's a great facility and the word is (spreading), and the schedule is filling up quickly."

The arena, which opened without public fanfare a couple of months ago, has two indoor diamonds with outfield fences, five batting cages, and training and concession areas. It is available to host leagues, tournaments and individual games for youth and adult baseball and softball teams, said Chris Beacom, who handles the programming and marketing for the facility.

"There's been a lot of enthusiasm and momentum as far as people wanting to get in here and play," said Beacom, whose company, Illinois Baseball Academy, runs baseball clinics, camps, and programs throughout the suburbs. "We actually have seniors that come in on Friday morning and play for several hours. We are able to really reach all the demographics, as far as softball, baseball, young, old. It's just a fabulous setup."

Beacom said the look in the eyes of children and adults alike as they walk in is one of awe. "There's nothing else like it for kids here in the Midwest ... as far as having a place to train or just play," he said.

Beacom said officials hope to start hosting high-profile baseball and softball tournaments at the arena.

"This facility being right next to the (Bandits) ballpark is going to attract a lot of national attention," he said.

Facility rentals, private lessons through the Bandits and the Illinois Baseball Academy, and batting cages also are available to the general public.

Stephens said there are other crossover uses for the arena, which can be converted into a turf field for lacrosse and football, and into makeshift volleyball courts.

"We're also doing some baseball, softball instruction through the Bandits players," Stephens said. "It's pretty crowded in there. I think we're going to have a very successful run with this facility through the summertime."

For more information, visit rosemont.com.

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