After 35 years, the sports staple at 9501 Lomas NE has closed, said owner Dick Mann during a recent visit at the site, which will be transformed into a self-storage facility in the new few months.
When the business first opened in 1983, eager softball and baseball players would show up in droves to improve their skills at the outdoor batting cages, said Mann, 68, who won’t miss the tedious aspects of running the enterprise, particularly the net mending. “I can do it blindfolded,” he said.
The business also sold bats and repaired gloves.
Back in the day, “It (the facility) was really a neat setup for anyone that needed to fine tune their swings and stances” before playing a game,” said Mann, who also owns the land. But in recent years, Mann said he saw a dip in sales as indoor facilities began to siphon off clientele and many of his adult league clients gave up the sport, especially softball players.
“They just weren’t showing up like they used to,” said Mann.
“A lot of baby boomers got older,” he added, referring to the bum knees, aching shoulders, and sore arms and backs of his former clientele. “A lot of the younger guys and gals haven’t picked up the slack.”
Mann still runs a second outdoor batting cage facility called Sluggers on Montgomery, which has a variety of machines set to a variety of pitching speeds, and seems to be holding its own.
In the meantime, he’s launching ABQ Self Storage on Lomas, which he believes will be more lucrative. The adjacent area is home to several large apartment complexes for folks needing extra space, said Mann.
“Self-storage facilities seem to be popping up in every neighborhood and most are 95 percent rented,” said Mann, who is investing $300,000 to transform the 3/4-acre site into a 100-unit facility, where the majority of spaces will be 10-by-10-foot units.
One in 11 households rents a self-storage unit, at a national average cost of $87.15 per month, according to statistics compiled by SpareFoot, a startup that provides listings for self-storage units. Last year, the industry’s annual revenue was estimated at $38 billion.
By late April, Mann said the facility — comprised of customized, prefabricated metal structures — should be assembled. The enclosed site will have gated access with keypad entry. “It’ll be well-lit with security cameras,” said Mann, adding that there also will be an attendant living on site.