Colorado baseball and softball is set to take another step toward developing major talent with the creation of the year-round Extra Innings training facility in Longmont.
The facility, which features multiple batting cages measuring 14 feet wide by 69 feet long, is housed in a 12,000-square-foot building off Ninth Avenue and Atwood Street, and is set for its grand opening Saturday.
The goal, says owner Mike Newton, is to help push the state’s talent in both sports to the next level – whether that means moving kids from the youth level to travel ball, or from high school to the collegiate ranks.
“My big focus was to give these kids an opportunity to go play at the next level," Newton says. "It’s amazing how that has even evolved from going – when I was a kid, you played football, and then you jumped into basketball or wrestling, and then after that, you jumped right into baseball, and then it all started over. Now, everything is becoming so specialized."
Extra Innings will be no different. It offers four instructors who each have lengthy backgrounds in the sports themselves – including Newton, who played collegiately at Regis University in Denver, and his wife, Leta, who played softball at Regis.
The cages features 17 feet of clearance, which will allow the batter to actually read the trajectory of each swing, Newton says.
Because it is housed indoors, it will allow training to continue year-round – and give teams an alternative to fighting for gym time when other sports, such as basketball and wrestling, are in-season during the winter months.
States like California, Arizona and Florida have traditionally had the advantage of being able to play play year-round because of warm offseason weather, and as such, develop a higher-than-average number of players who move on to higher levels of baseball and softball.
Extra Innings is a national brand with 35 locations in 17 states. The location in Longmont is the first of its kind in Colorado, but the company is hoping to expand to six facilities in the Denver metro area within five years.
"They have a proven track record," Newton says. "It’s not recreating or re-inventing the wheel. It’s pretty much taking the idea or the concept that they have and running with it. The other aspect that I liked about it is they’re not telling me how to teach baseball, which is great. It’s my philosophies, or my other instructor’s philosophies, which we think can help (the players that come to the facility) make it to the next level."
Longmont’s Extra Innings also features a pro shop with all types of gear, and party rooms are available.
For more information, call the facility at 303-776-2255 or visit www.extrainningslongmont.com.