Baseball/softball training facility in the works in Elgin
An indoor training facility for baseball and softball might be coming to Randall Road in Elgin.
Jeff Moeller, who runs Warriors Travel Baseball Club in Hampshire, said he and his partners Derek Shomon and Jordan Dean want to open Athletes First HQ at 1005 N. Randall Road. Shomon is an assistant coach for the Schaumburg Boomers and Dean is a former Boomers player who now plays for the Sioux Falls Canaries.
The 15,159-square-foot space in Elgin is part of the former Walmart building that was bought by Russo Power Equipment in 2015. The retailer occupies the rest of the building, or about 110,000 square feet.
The sports facility would have 11 tunnels, four or five bullpens and a workout area, Moeller said. It would offer memberships to the general public and provide opportunities for one-on-one lessons, classes, camps, and training programs for travel teams and organizations, he said.
He and his partners also want to capitalize on the lack of proper softball training spots in the area, he said. "We're going to really attack the softball," he said.
The city's planning and zoning commission recommended approval of the proposal earlier this month. The city council is expected to cast its vote in September. Moeller said he wants to open before Nov. 1.
"The proposal reflects a trend nationwide where retail centers and commercial properties along busy roads are being taken up by these service and amusement business facilities, because retail in today's society cannot fill all the retail spaces that are available," city senior planner Damir Latinovic told the commission.
Moeller said he's coached baseball for 30 years, including 11 years at Westminster Christian School in Elgin, which won the Class 1A state title in 2010. He and his business partners have extensive connections in the baseball world, he said.
"We already have a built- in group that we're going to train," he said. "There's other groups, for example local little leagues and traveling teams, that's going to add to the people there."
Linda Rose of Schiller Management, property manager for Russo Power Equipment, said there's been some interest in the property over the years, but Russo "really favored the idea of providing a space for youth sports training."
"The sports training facility will also operate later in the evening and weekends, which is essentially opposite of Russo Power Equipment. The city of Elgin has been very supportive in the process," she said.
Russo has been committed to seeing the strip mall "come back to life," Rose said. The company purchased another 2.3 acres there and is working with developers that want to build a child learning center called "The Learning Experience," she said.