|Former MLB Pitcher Looks To Build Dome Sports Complex In Pittsfield|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
04:15PM / Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Pictured here in 2011 when he signed on to be the coach of the Pittsfield Colonials, Chad Paronto now looks to build an inflatable dome sports complex in the city.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Former Major League Pitcher Chad Paronto wants to build a large indoor sports complex in Pittsfield.
On Wednesday, Paronto said he and business partner Dale Connor are close to closing a deal on a piece of property in the city, though he didn't reveal the address, to build the 50,000-square-foot inflatable dome.
The retired pitcher said he has been working on a business plan and market research for the last 18 months and hopes to complete the project by June 2016.
"It's going to be a pretty big multi-sports facility," Paronto said. "We have a land deal but we haven't agreed to the financials yet."
The plan is to have four or five batting cages with pitching mounds and pitching machines in one section of the field and then a 30,000-square-foot organic turf field marked out for just about every sport.
He said he has letters of intent to use the field from an array of coaches, leagues and athletic directors.
"It's something nice for the community. A lot of people are leaving the Berkshires to go to a facility like this," Paronto said.
The field is eyed for soccer, lacrosse, football, baseball and softball, among the sports for leagues, personal use, and private lessons. Paronto says the dome will serve as a centralized place where all leagues - youth to adults - know they can practice even when the Berkshire weather doesn't cooperate.
"There is a difficulty finding field time," Paronto said. "When the weather is bad, these teams get their games pushed around and need to make sure they can get a good practice in."
The field will be short of a regulation soccer field but can be separated for multiple activities at a time if needed. Teams or leagues can rent out the facility - either through one-time rentals or through membership - for use. But it will also be available for private coaching or recreational activities.
"You can use our field any day of the week for 365 days a year," Paronto said.
The field is planned to be organic cork with soft, long turf - unlike the hard Astroturf - which is designed to have more cushion to reduce injuries. And it isn't just for cold weather. Paronto said: In the hot August days youth soccer leagues may want to move indoors.
Beside the expansive fields, the facility will have video technology to help coaches with their players.
Paronto said the plans are just about together for what is tentatively named the Diamond Field Sports Complex but he is still looking for other investors.
"We are seeking local investors to keep the money in the Berkshires," Paronto said, adding that those interested can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Paronto, a UMass Amherst graduate, moved to the city after being drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 1996. He reached the major leagues as a pitcher in 2001 and then spent seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves. He finished his career with in the Red Sox minor league system when he retired.
He joined the Pittsfield Colonials as a coach in 2011. Last year, he launched a series of camps for baseball players. He also provided private lessons.
Paronto said he wanted to run a training facility for a number of years but it took some friends to encourage him to take a series approach to it.
"It really came about when person after person came up to me saying you should put up an indoor facility," Paronto said.