Young athletes can swing, pitch, kick and play at the new Sports Heaven opening this week in Winter Springs. The outdoor sports training facility includes seven newly renovated batting cages, a full-sized pitcher’s mound, turf fields and two half-court basketball courts — all designed with locals in mind. “All around here we’ve got big baseball leagues,” says Sports Heaven co-owner Eric Klaff. He and his business partner, Rich Boyd, were originally looking at a location in the tourist district, but when they found a piece of property with abandoned batting cages off Belle Avenue and S.R. 434, they decided to scrap their plans on I-Drive for a smaller, more economical approach. “We love it here,” says Klaff. “The community has been fantastic. Everyone we’ve met so far has been appreciative of the work we’ve done in the cages to fix them up.”
The batting cages aren’t the only project Klaff and his partner had to tackle when they selected the site. They also installed a new sidewalk, 5,500 square feet of artificial turf, a basketball area and a small arcade space to transform the abandoned piece of property into an environment that local families and athletic clubs will want to return to again and again. “It’s about affordable family entertainment,” says Klaff. “We live in Orlando, home of the $200-ticket during peak season.” Klaff previously worked for one of Orlando’s major theme parks. His vision for Sports Heaven is to create something more attainable for the average family — a place where Little Leaguers can play catch with their dads on the weekends and high-school standouts can practice in the summer. Their facility is also available for birthday party rentals.
Family entertainment is always fun, but Sports Heaven also caters to current and aspiring athletes. Beginning early June, two collegiate soccer players will be on-site twice a week, offering instructional training sessions on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Sports Heaven team is still working out pricing, but promises it won’t be “those $100/hour lessons.” The goal is to eventually expand to offer private lessons for baseball, softball and other sports as well. They’re currently working to recruit a few former MLB players. The dozens of Little League teams in the area can also rent the facility, giving young athletes a clean and professional place to practice with their own coaches and teammates. The goal is to eventually partner with every Little League in Central Florida by offering a 10% rebate on all monies spent on batting cage tokens and field rentals.
While there’s plenty of excitement surrounding the return of youth sports, the owners of Sports Heaven have put extra health safety measures in place due to COVID-19. They encourage everyone who visits their facility to practice safe social distancing, the staff regularly disinfects sports equipment, and extra hand sanitizer is available throughout the establishment.
Who: Sports Heaven Orlando
Where: 1271 Belle Avenue, Winter Springs, FL 32708
Individual membership: $34.99/month