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By Paul Lonardo
As former standout collegiate hockey players, Lincoln residents Steve Sangermano and Dan Fawcett may know a little bit more than most people about competitive sports, but as co-owners of Wide World of Indoor Sports, Inc. they know a good time when they see the fun that all the kids and their parents are having at one of their three state-of-the art indoor sports facilities.
“People like us,” Steve says, “because we’re a family-friendly facility. We don’t tolerate yelling and swearing. When the kids come in, the best part for Danny and me is just sitting back and watching them play. While they’re here, they’re not on their phones, they’re off the social media, and they’re getting exercise. And the parents get into the games watching from positions above the playing surface. We give them a great viewing area.”
It was just last fall that the business partners added a third facility in Montville, CT to go along with the ones located in North Smithfield and North Kingstown. All three of these immense indoor sports complexes accommodate up to six top-of-the-line, non-boarded turf fields on 80-90,000 square feet of open space, including ample spectator seating and concession area.
Clean, comfortable, climate-controlled, with a mezzanine overlooking all fields where parents and guests can watch the games, the fields are equipped to accommodate a variety of sports, including soccer, lacrosse, flag football, baseball, softball, field hockey, among others. The facilities also offer instruction and clinics for children as well as sports leagues and field rentals for athletes and people of all ages.
Steve grew up playing hockey in Burrillville, and after high school he attended American International College and then enrolled at Roger Williams University, playing hockey for both schools. Upon graduating in 1994, Steve went on to play professional hockey for eight seasons, lacing them up for a number of different teams and levels of play, including National Hockey League-affiliated franchises in the UHL and AHL. He retired from the sport in 2001, coming close but falling short of getting on a NHL roster.
Dan Fawcett was raised in Lincoln and played hockey for the Lions through high school, so he and Steve had known each other as competitors on the ice for many years, developing a casual friendship in that time. When Dan went on to play for UMass, the two lost track of one another. While they went their separate ways, they were destined to meet again and work together, establishing Wide World of Indoor Sports, Inc.
It all started nine years ago, when Steve and his wife, Sandra, were watching their daughter, Alexis, play softball at the YMCA.
“The children were playing in these cramped rooms,” Steve says, “the acoustics were bad, it was loud, the parents were all squeezed together. I turned to my wife and said, ‘There was to be something better than this.’”
Sandra implicitly understood the inference her husband made that they should look into finding an adequate, more accommodating facility. And that’s what they set out to do.
“We found some real nice ones,” Steve says. “The only problem was that in Rhode Island there really weren’t any. So we decided to look into finding a piece of land somewhere in the state with the idea of starting our own indoor sports business.”
While necessity proved to be the mother of invention, Steve and Sandra quickly realized that they lacked a couple essential requirements to properly get their business venture off the ground, namely experience and start-up capital. The first person Steve thought of was his old friend, Dan Fawcett.
“I knew he’d been in that world,” Steve says about Dan. “He ran Rhode Island Sports Center, the ice rink in North Smithfield, for 10 or 15 years. He rented ice time and ran leagues, so I approached him with the idea and after we talked about it for a little while, we tweaked over some details together and then he told me, ‘Yeah, let’s do this thing.’ And from there, we began a great partnership.”
North Smithfield was chosen as the site of the first facility and Wide World of Indoor Sports opened in August 2008, though it took a little longer than they anticipated going from ground breaking to grand opening because they had the building constructed from the ground up.
“I found that a lot of the other indoor sports facilities out there were housed in old warehouses and factory buildings,” Steve says. “But that’s not at all conducive to what people want in an indoor sports complex. They want open space. What you’re doing is taking the outdoors and moving them indoors. In New England, as we all know, there’s not much you can do outside for a considerable portion of the year. One thing you don’t want is poles all over the place when you’re running around inside.”
The cost of steel in the construction of buildings engineered to accommodate large open indoor space was formidable, but it’s what Steve and Dan felt was needed to establish a state-of-the-art indoor sports facility today.
The season at Wide World of Indoor Sports basically runs from October through the end of March, though it is in operation year-round.
“Unfortunately,” Steve says, “we are like an ice cream stand. We’re extremely seasonal. Six months of the year we’re packed and six months of the year it’s pretty desolate around here. When you come in during the winter and see everybody here all at once, you might think it’s packed like that all the time. But if you come on a Saturday in late April, you can probably get the place pretty cheap.”
This reality did not stop Steve and Dan from expanding. They opened up a second facility in North Kingston in 2012, and then three years after that came the third complex in Montville, CT, a town comprised of several small villages, including Uncasville, home of the Mohegan Sun casino.
While Steve and Dan played hockey at a high level, when it came to establishing a viable business, they understood how important it was to accommodate multiple sports under a single roof.
Steve says, “In this business, having multiple sports helps you from the stand point of protecting yourself in case the trend switches in youth sports. It protects you if have that diversity and adaptability.”
To that end, Steve and Dan are looking ahead this summer to expand their summer youth camps and clinics.
“Now, kids can come in during the summer,” Steve says, “our slowest time of the season. It’s convenient for working parents. In the morning they can drop off the kids, and because this is a multi-sports facility, they can stay here all day and be active. They can have their snacks and lunches, whatever they need. So this is something that we’re focused on promoting this summer.”
Wide World of Indoor Sports hosts, renting the space and providing a pleasant and safe environment, to local or private sports groups that run the many clinics that are going on all the time, including lacrosse, soccer and softball.
While the current three facilities keep Steve and Dan busy, they are not closed to further expansion.
“If it is the right situation and right location,” Steve says, “we would definitely consider expanding. We’ll see how it goes. We’re always looking to see if there is a need somewhere that would create an opportunity to expand. You can never say never. Our eyes are open.”
For those of us in northern Rhode Island, the main facility in North Smithfield is only a couple mile trek up Route 146, conveniently located off the highway on Pound Hill Road. Wide World of Indoor Sports hosts year-round multiple sports adult leagues, youth leagues and summer camps. For interested players of any age who are looking to get active and participate in a sport, just give Steve or Dan a call and find out how to get put on one of the house teams
For more information visit http://www.wideworldofindoorsports.com/