Monterrey, Mexico-based sports entertainment holding company SIMCo is bringing its immersive baseball simulator and sports bar Batbox to Dallas-Fort Worth. The first U.S. location is set to open in late 2023 or early 2024, according to SIMCo CEO and Batbox Co-Founder Jose Vargas.
Within the venue, which will be between 8,000 and 12,000 square feet, there will be eight to 12 baseball simulators that measure up to 50 feet long. “This will be a stadium-like experience,” Vargas said. “It will be like a sports bar, but there won’t be any waiters or bartenders. There will be a kiosk just like in a sports stadium where you go for beer, a hot dog, or popcorn.”
The exact location of the first Batbox is still up in the air, but Vargas says the company is exploring options in Plano, Frisco, and Uptown. SIMCo is currently launching a capital raise to fund the venture. “We’re bringing on investors from the sports industry—we want to bring in MLB players and industry-related investors. It is our goal to scale this concept to every possible city,” Vargas said.
Batbox’s simulators are outfit with a pitching machine behind an HD projection screen. To capture contact, impact, and trajectory, the simulators are equipped with Strikezon technology, a high-speed laser camera sensor system above the batter’s box. Strikezon was developed by Golfzon Newdin Group, the largest indoor entertainment company in the world with more than 40,000 sports simulators installed in more than 7,000 locations in 65+ countries.
Batbox patrons can play nine innings of baseball or hit in a home run derby tournament with up to 18 participants per batting cage. The velocity of the pitch and level of defensive play is customizable. The ball is bit softer than a traditional baseball.
Vargas sees a future in which the technology lets players compete online in games, tournaments, and home run derbies against opponents from across the country. “We’re combining virtual reality with the physical world,” Vargas said. “You’re watching the stadium and pitcher through a projector, but then the ball comes out of the pitcher’s hand and now you’ll need to use your physical talent to hit the ball. We have the ability to create national simulator tournaments where people all across the United States play baseball against each other online.”
In 2022, SIMCo made North Texas its U.S. headquarters by opening a BatBox showroom in Addison to sell the simulators to venues across North America. For the 2023 MLB season, BatBox is “in final discussions” with the Kansas City Royals to replace three pitching machines with BatBox simulators in Kauffman Stadium, according to Vargas. The baseball simulators are also installed in Iowa entertainment venue Inside Golf, sports complex Swift Sportsdome in Reno, Nevada, and within a baseball retail store in Phoenix.
“It’s a growing economy, full of sports enthusiasts with so many big games in Dallas,” Vargas said about the decision to put its headquarters and first Batbox venue in North Texas. “We needed a state with inexpensive land, but a growing population—it just made all the sense in the world.”
SIMCo, which was founded in 2016, has opened 13 Batbox locations throughout Mexico and commissioned more than 200 simulators across various Mexican venues.
“In five to 10 years, we see people in every college town, in every baseball city, having the opportunity to compete and to play baseball everywhere utilizing Batbox simulators,” Vargas said.