PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Local baseball and softball players could soon have the opportunity to train with professional athletes.
There are over 100 D-Bat baseball and softball academies across the country and the Panama City Beach council wants to bring one to the area.
“I always drive by Frank Brown Park, I played ball at Frank Brown Park, I’ve coached little league baseball at Frank Brown Park, and one of the problems we always had there was an opportunity to have our kids work out before the game,” said Russ Ramey, who proposed the project to the city council.
Ramey said kids would have that opportunity with the addition of a D-Bat facility.
They would have sufficient time to warm up and if it rained, they could still get practice in.
“I was not aware of how many teams are coming to this area, particularly Frank Brown Park, during the calendar year for tournament play,” Ramey said. “The number to me was staggering. This would also serve those people.”
The proposed 22,000 sq. ft. facility would include indoor batting cages, a Rawlings pro shop, and a parents lounge.
Emily Hatfield used to play professional softball. She thinks this is exactly the kind of facility her son needs to reach his full potential.
“I see the talent in him and I see the talent in a lot of children and you know for them to have somewhere they can go and really get the right training, I’m sure the future … will be so different,” the former professional athlete said.
Ramey said D-Bat has been one of the top 5 franchises in the nation for the past five years.
He also said there have been more D-Bat kids drafted into Major League Baseball than any other organization known as a training facility.
While all the Panama City Beach council members said they loved this idea, some wish it would be smaller.
Ramey said he’d talk with the architects to see if they can build the D-Bat complex on just two acres of land.
If D-Bat were to go to Frank Brown Park, it would be a partnership with the city.