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Burgers, Bats and Balls
by Damian Tromerhauser
Jun 09, 2012 | 1250 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Josh Conner, 8, got in some swings at the batting cages inside Tommy’s Grandstand Saturday.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Josh Conner, 8, got in some swings at the batting cages inside Tommy’s Grandstand Saturday.
Tucked away in the industrial district of Sparks is a prime spot where all members of the family can take part in the festivities available. Since 1987, Tommy’s Grandstand has provided Sparks with a location to take some swings while also grabbing a bite to eat. After moving from its first location near Wild Island, Tommy’s Grandstand has now been situated at 830 Meredith Way for the past 10 years. Over those 25 years, locals have become a part of the establishment.

“We’ve seen kids come in from the time they were 5 years old up until they graduate, playing ball all the way through,” Tommy’s Grandstand owner Tom Newell said. “We’ve seen a lot of kids grow up over the years. A lot of relationships and friendships have developed over the years, too.”

While the grill and batting cages are not positioned in the middle of the Rail City, the location in the middle of Sparks’ warehouse district has proven beneficial to business for Tommy’s Grandstand.

“During the week when the cages are slower because kids are in school, we get a lot of people from around the immediate area that come in for lunch,” Newell said. “Then at night and on the weekends, we’ll get people that come in to use the cages. It’s really a unique business with both of those elements that kind of complement each other and offset the area.”

Like many other businesses, Tommy’s Grandstand has had to adapt with the downturn of the economy in recent years.

“The economy has been a struggle,” Newell said. “We have the battle of any small business as far as prices and profits go. We don’t really have any buying power like a large business would have, so we have to accommodate. I’m a family person myself and we’re a family oriented place, so we try to adjust prices and keep them fair for our customers and for ourselves.”

Although the economy has created a number of obstacles for Tommy’s Grandstand, the business is still holding up strong and providing somewhere for everyone in the family to have fun.

Offering food ranging from burgers and specialty sandwiches to a choice of chicken and beverages, patrons can watch sporting events on seven big screen TVs. For the more active consumers, Tommy’s Grandstand has five batting cages and four private tunnels where private instruction is available. On top of that, Tommy’s Grandstand is continuing to expand its horizons. Customers can now not only practice their baseball swing, but also their golf swing as an automated golf area has been installed in the back of the 17,000 square-foot business. Regardless of the changes though, Tommy’s Grandstand’s main focus remains to create a family environment.

“We incorporate the whole family,” Newell said. “I think that is the biggest difference between us and other places that offer something similar. During the day, people can come in and get something to eat and later in the night mom and dad can bring the kids down to get some swings in while they grab a glass of wine or beer if they like and watch a game on TV. Everyone can enjoy themselves and be comfortable here.”

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