Batting cages offer River Falls new indoor 'Field of Dreams'
Baseball, America's pastime, gets another boost in River Falls with the May 18 opening of Field of Dreams Indoor Sports & Batting Cages, LLC, 125 1/2 N. Main Street.
Billed on its website as "an indoor, year-round baseball/softball facility," Field of Dreams' purpose is to "...develop and enrich batting, pitching, fielding and catching skills in baseball and softball enthusiasts of all ages in the St. Croix River Valley and beyond."
Co-owners Josh and Gina Cleveland, owners of Cleveland Family Chiropractic and parents to three boys, Jackson, 12; Samuel, 10; and Zachery, 8, felt the community needed a facility like Field of Dreams.
"This is the community we raise our kids in and our kids play baseball in and the community needs this," said Cleveland.
Located in the old Victory Wrestling gym -- which will now be run by the new River Falls High School wrestling coach, Kevin Black out of Meyer Middle School -- Field of Dreams was something the Clevelands started talking about three years ago.
With busy schedules they put the idea on the back burner until last year when, according to Cleveland, "the timing was perfect."
Originally the Clevelands, who have been in River Falls for 15 years, looked at other sites around River Falls, but when the 125 1/2 North Main Street space became available, they jumped at it.
Cleveland said about owning two downtown businesses: "Some come, some go. The businesses that stay take care of River Falls and have a commitment to the community."
Cleveland said they had offers to put the batting cages in Hudson but they "believe in the community and what we can accomplish here."
Cleveland, who played baseball in high school, says he just has a "love for baseball."
The indoor baseball facility will feature four token fed machines -- three for baseball and one for softball -- as well as two portable machines that can be used for both baseball and softball and need to be hand fed.
Cleveland said that the machines are appropriate for ages five to "the sky's the limit," with ball speeds ranging from 30-99 mph.
There are two pitching mounds, ball t's and radar guns for use at Field of Dreams.
The 10,000 square foot indoor baseball space will include a 1,200 square foot lounge that will have Wi-fi, concessions and TVs. The area will also be used for birthday parties.
Besides batting cage rental and birthday parties, Field of Dreams will offer individual and group lessons in hitting, pitching, and fielding, as well as clinics, camps and more.
Field of Dreams' services vary and prices can be found on their website at www.rffieldofdreams.com.
The facility will feature a pro shop that has been stocked with help from Chippewa Valley Sporting Goods. Soft Hit balls will be used in the pitching machines.
Bats and helmets will be available for use, or participants can bring their own equipment.
With new paint, cages, turf, and new wiring by Sunset Electric out of Hudson, Field of Dreams is almost set for its May 18 grand opening.
Share the wisdom
Taking care of day-to-day operations will be facilities manager, Brian Giebel. As a member of the Fighting Fish Baseball team, Giebel will bring strong baseball knowledge to the position.
Before joining the Fish five years ago, he played high school ball at River Falls High School and college baseball at UW-Stout.
Said Giebel, "I've done the baseball thing in River Falls my whole life."
Cleveland said that when they looked for a facilities manager, Giebel was the perfect choice.
"The selling point for us was how he worked with kids," said Cleveland, who witnessed Giebel working with kids during a baseball camp.
"I love working with kids, I love baseball, love teaching, love hitting and working on the detailed things," said Giebel.
He said he will be busy scheduling appointments, taking care of the machines and keeping the space clean, while the Clevelands will oversee operations and concentrate on the arm care part of the business.
Besides Giebel, the board of directors consists of numerous doctors and baseball coaches including: Nate Schurman, River Falls Fighting Fish; Ryan Bishop, River Falls High School head coach; Ryan Christenson, Ellsworth High School assistant coach; Marcus Hallberg, River Falls High School co-head coach and former AAA Arizona Diamondbacks player; Joshua Cleveland, rehabilitation and arm care; Gina Cleveland, rehabilitation and arm care; Justin Anderson, sports psychology; and James Plummer, physical therapy. According to Cleveland, instructors will include: Christenson, who is a pitching and fielding instructor for the U.S. Baseball Academy Spring Training Camp and has reached certification in the velocity program. Additional instructors include Schurmann, former Eau Claire North baseball coach and Greenwood Elementary principal and Hallberg, who played minor league AAA baseball.
Said Hallberg: "Field of Dreams is a welcome addition to River Falls and certainly exciting for baseball fans. It will be a great place for players to work on their physical and mental skills. This facility will be great for baseball in River Falls."
Cleveland mentioned that instructors will be added as the facility gets going.
He said that Field of Dreams has received support from area coaches and the community as a whole.
Field of Dreams will be open Monday, Tuesday,Thursday and Friday, 3-9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m to 7 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be closed Wednesdays.
For more information about Field of Dreams Indoor Sports & Batting Cages, LLC, call 715-781-1456 or visit: www.rffieldofdreams.com.