Kennewick batting facility D-BAT Columbia Basin opening near Vista Field

Bob and Tammy Benson have long wanted to run a batting cage business in the Tri-City area.

“We’ve always talked about having a facility,” Tammy said. “We’d look and talk about it. But we wouldn’t do it.”

Then a friend showed them information about a D-BAT franchise a few years ago.

The Bensons bought a franchise and opened in March near Vista Field in Kennewick.

D-BAT Columbia Basin is a 20,000-square-foot warehouse filled with 15 batting cages, two golf simulators and three pitching tunnels for live batting practice.

Dustin Willis, a former college baseball player and community college coach, is general manager.

Tammy Benson said the early reviews are good.

“The response has been great,” she said. “The high school kids think this is awesome. The little kids are so excited. We’re a little heavy on baseball right now. But we’re having a lot of older softball players from the Mid-Columbia Senior Softball League coming in.”

The facility features five baseball instructors and four softball instructors. All work on an independent contractor basis and offer lessons.

D-BAT was founded by brothers Cade and Kyle Griffis in Texas in 1998, when they traveled their state giving lessons. They started franchising the company in 2009. There are 75 locations around the country, with 20 more in the process of being built.

A franchise fee costs $40,000, with an initial investment costs between $397,000 to $698,000, according to Franchisegrade.
com. Entrepreneur magazine ranks it 341 among the Top 500 franchises in the U.S.

Tammy, a former assistant softball coach at Columbia Basin College, who also coaches a softball team in the Washington Angels organization, believes a facility like D-BAT will make better players out of anyone who uses it.

“People are looking for more practice time,” she said. “These machines are state of the art.”

They include three FungoMan machines, which can throw baseballs, fastpitch softballs, or give slowpitch softball players a 12-foot arc pitch.

Machine speeds vary. In baseball, hitters can look at 40-, 50-, 60- and 70-mph pitches. Fastpitch softball will get you 40-, 50- and 60-mph pitches.

Pricing also will vary. The basic cost is $2 a credit, and a credit includes 13 to 15 pitches. People planning to use the cages more can buy memberships, which can provide customer discounts on almost everything.

For instance, platinum memberships cost $68 a month; gold memberships are $48 a month. Platinum memberships provide hitters with unlimited cage time.

The Bensons also plan on offering numerous clinics and camps.

Other highlights include: hit track tournaments that involve four-man teams and six-inning games; two TrackMan golf simulators; strength and conditioning classes; a fully stocked pro shop that sells bats, gloves and other gear, with numerous brands.

Tammy said that Bothell has the first D-BAT in the state, but Kennewick is the second. It also is the second Tri-City batting cage business. The Batter’s Box in Kennewick has been open for a few years.

A former school secretary at Hanford High School, Benson said she’s found the perfect job.

“I’m already happy,” she said. “It’s a fun job, being around baseball and softball. There is no better way to spend your day.”

D-BAT is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.D-BAT Columbia Basin 6416 W. Hood Place, Suite 150, Kennewick; 509-940-3228;; Facebook; Instagram; Twitter.

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