Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityMassive rent hike forces Tommy's Grandstand in Sparks to close | KRNV
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Massive rent hike forces Tommy's Grandstand in Sparks to close

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From the kitchen to the batting cages, Tommy's Grandstand has been serving up food and fastballs to local families for more than thirty years.

"I have kids', kids', kids coming in," said owner Tommy Newell.

Newell is a former professional baseball player who enjoyed a brief stint in the big leagues.

He started chasing a new dream when he took over the business in 2002, hitting a home run with local families by providing a place where kids can step into the batting cage, drop in a token, and at least for an afternoon, have the chance to chase their own dreams.

"You see smiles on kids faces," Newell explained. "Baseball's fun and that's what you see here. We make it fun."

But the fun is coming to an end. Newell has posted a sign on the counter to help break the news to patrons that's Tommy's will close for good in May.

Longtime customers like Ryan Krauser say it will be a big loss for the community.

"It's a little bittersweet," Krauser said. "I hope someone steps in and brings more cages to this part of town because I know there's a need for it and a desire for it."

Newell is closing up shop because the company that owns the building on Meredith Way in Sparks is raising his rent by more than 300 percent.

Newell says he simply can't afford to stay in business with that kind of increase in overhead.

"We all understand market value," Newell said, admitting some frustration with the rising costs he's facing. "There should be a regulation you would think, on a certain amount. There's no way you can make up those costs."

The reality is, Northern Nevada's commercial real estate market is booming these days and landlords can charge virtually whatever they want for prime properties like the one where Tommy's is located.

It's one sign of a healthy economy but it's also a trend that's bound to push more locally owned businesses out of business.

For now Newell says he's focusing on his final few months behind the counter. Just as when his playing days ended with the Yankees, he's learned that life sometimes forces you to switch gears, whether you're ready to or not.

"So I've got to wait and see when I sit in that recliner with my cup of coffee and say, hey, I don't have anywhere to go tomorrow," Newell told us. "And then let the brain open up and see what's next."

I did reach out to the landlord, Seagate Properties in San Francisco, to ask them about that 300 percent rent increase but they did not respond to our phone calls.

The last day for Tommy's Grandstand will be May 22nd. There's no word yet on what the new tenants have planned for the building.

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Good luck to Tommy in his next venture!

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