BRANDON — Tony Saladino III needed more exposure and better facilities for his baseball academy. Chuck Burgess wanted to expand team opportunities at the Brandon Sports and Aquatic Center.
A few meetings and phone calls later, both got what they wanted.
"It's a great match," Burgess said. "A perfect marriage."
The Saladino Baseball Academy moves its operations a few blocks east this summer, partnering with BSAC to bring together two of the most recognizable institutions in Brandon sports.
"For us, it was an opportunity to work with some great people and professionals," Saladino said. "It really was a no-brainer."
BSAC, in its 50th year of operation, has land available for building baseball facilities and has been aiming to add more team sports for a few years.
"It's something that we've planned on for about four or five years," said Burgess, executive director at the center, said. "When we decided to go for it, we wanted to get the best people available."
So Burgess contacted Saladino and the two worked out an arrangement that will bring baseball fields, batting cages and bullpens to BSAC.
"When you think of baseball in Brandon, you think of the name Saladino," Burgess said. "They are staples around here."
The Saladino Baseball Academy has been around since 2008 and had operated out of South Brandon Little League. Tony Saladino Jr. has run the Saladino Tournament, one of the most nationally recognizable high school baseball events in the country for 33 years.
"This will allow us to reach so many more kids," Tony Saladino III said. "Let's say you're a parent and you have one child in baseball and one in swimming or another sport. This allows that parent to go to one place instead of two and that's a big help to them."
Saladino said they plan to construct three Little League baseball fields, two indoor batting cages, two more outside cages and around eight bullpen mounds. Although it will take "about two years" to get all the bells and whistles in place, there will be practice facilities, cages and bullpens in place when summer camps open June 3.
"It's going to be a process to get all the fences and lights and dugouts in, but we will be ready (June 3) and have the facilities ready for workouts," Saladino said.
The Saladino Baseball Academy will offer instruction for kids ages 3 to 12. Saladino said he expects to add staffers in anticipation of more kids coming to his camps once the move to BSAC is complete.
"We are just thrilled and honored to be a part of BSAC," Saladino said. "It's a match made in heaven."
Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]