Take me out to the ballgame? Why bother? An alumnus of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is bringing the game to you.
Jonathan Retano, MBA ‘02, is the co-founder of Fun Fieldz LLC, a mobile entertainment venture that converts backyards into ballfields for functions of any size.
“It really started when my wife would drag me to family barbecues, and I was bored,” said Retano, who studied Finance at Fox. “I started getting materials together to build a mobile Wiffle Ball field and, right from the get-go, we would have fun at these parties rather than talking about refinancing a mortgage.”
Retano’s wife, Melissa, who earned her PhD in 2009 from Temple’s School of Media and Communications, may have been his inspiration, but it wasn’t until Retano received encouragement from a friend, Dante Parenti, to turn his idea into a business that Fun Fieldz’ potential was realized. Co-founders Retano and Parenti, with additional support from partner Aaron Keller, got Fun Fieldz off the ground in 2012.
The concept is unique. Retano and Fun Fieldz bring the ballfield accouterments to your function, setting up and cleaning up without clients ever having to lift a finger.
If folks fancy baseball, Retano’s team draws the chalk lines, raises an outfield fence, sets up foul poles and drops the bases for an authentic ballpark experience for the Wiffle Ball enthusiast. (There’s even a strike zone situated behind home plate, so there’s no need for an umpire to call the game.) If football is on the menu, Retano paints the field with yardlines, puts downs pilons to distinguish the end zone and even erects uprights for participants to kick extra points and field goals. If the sport of choice is soccer, the set-up is a less cumbersome and requires only field lines and goals at each end. But to make it more authentic, the field’s perimeter is adorned with advertising that one might see at a European soccer match.
“It’s fun to take kids who are used to computer games and then watch them hit a home run,” said Retano, who resides in East Norriton, Pa. “It’s just amazing to see the smiles on their faces. And then parents get involved, too. That’s what we love about our business, is that it’s for all ages.”
Additional features to the experience include: a master-of-ceremonies who announces lineups prior to game time, providing color commentary and playing organ music; specialized packages that include custom cakes and banners; and indoor options for events scheduled during the winter.
Fun Fieldz also posts statistics from the games to their website. (So after your family party or company cookout, the home run you smacked over the fence may have been long, long gone, but the memory of it won’t be.)
The crowning achievement in the company’s brief history occurred earlier this year, when Retano and Fun Fieldz had six ballfields running simultaneously at a home-and-school association event at an elementary school in Warrington, Pa.
“We thought we might’ve stretched ourselves a little thin there,” said Retano, whose day job is in managed care for a pharmaceuticals company. “But we pulled it off.”
Fun Fieldz’ reach is limited to the Greater Philadelphia region – for now
“We’ve been talking to a consultant on how to franchise this opportunity,” Retano said. “While we’re focused on improving our product locally, we’re looking for how to expand it, too. We have been able to hit other market segments besides birthday parties including corporate picnics, summer camps, community days and, most proudly, providing fun events for special-needs children.
“If you do something fun, you never have to work a day in your life.”