Henderson couple takes swing at batting-cage business

It took a lot for Carol Ruegge to persuade her husband, Dave, to start an indoor batting cage.

When asked why he gave in, Dave said, “I’m a money man,” gesturing with his thumb and forefinger.

The Ruegges believe their Vegas Valley Batter’s Box, 7370 Eastgate Road, Suite 100, will pay off.

“Batting cages haven’t been around (in Henderson) for 12 years,” Carol said. “There’s a need for them.”

The Ruegges have been involved with baseball in Southern Nevada for more than 25 years. Dave started Vegas Valley Umpires in 1991, an organization that trains prospective umpires from around the globe, and Carol came on board around 1996. In 2008, Dave and Carol became directors for the Southern Nevada chapter of the United States Specialty Sports Association.

The USSSA is a multi-sport organization that offers tournaments for club teams in baseball, basketball, softball and more.

In the nine years since, they’ve gone from hosting five tournaments a year with up to 60 teams to 12 tournaments a year with up to 250 teams.

The couple started talking about the idea of a batting cage in June. They were approved for a permit in September, and after a $150,000 investment in what was an empty warehouse, the doors opened Jan. 17.

“It was a huge risk,” Carol said. “… Now, it’s just about trying to generate business and get the word out there.”

Dave and Carol said baseball won’t be the facility’s only purpose.

In late March, Vegas Valley Batter’s Box hosted its first birthday party. Railings for three of the seven cages were rearranged, and a spot for batting practice turned into a dodgeball arena with kids facing their parents. Dave and Carol have two two-hour party packages available — the “Homerun” ($150) and Grand Slam ($175) — in which 10-15 guests can play kickball or dodgeball, to name a few..

One of the cages has a softer net designed for golfers to practice drives and approach shots.

“We knew (being a multipurpose facility) was a possibility,” said Michael Sclafani, Dave and Carol’s son and social media manager for the family’s Vegas Valley Baseball operations. “There’s enough in the baseball community that we knew it was an option.”

Carol and Dave believe the major league success of the Chicago Cubs’ Kris Bryant and the Washington Naitonals’ Bryce Harper, both National League MVPs from Las Vegas, will give parents a reason to get their children involved in baseball.

“So now the parents are willing to pay anything they have to to put their kid on a club ball team,” Carol said. “The club ball teams have multiplied … because those guys all played club ball.”

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@viewnews.com or 702-380-3834. Follow @DannyWebster21 on Twitter.

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