After​ ​introducing​ ​their​ ​highly​ ​social​ ​take​ ​on​ ​the​ ​sport​ ​of​ ​bocce​ ​ball​ ​to​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​players throughout​ ​Chicago​ ​and​ ​several​ ​other​ ​pilot​ ​cities,​ ​American​ ​Bocce​ ​Company​ ​(ABC)​ ​has​ ​landed on​ ​St.​ ​Petersburg,​ ​Florida​ ​as​ ​their​ ​new​ ​home.

American​ ​Bocce​ ​President​ ​Alex​ ​Gara​ ​explained​ ​the​ ​decision​ ​for​ ​those​ ​who​ ​might​ ​think​ ​Chicago to​ ​St.​ ​Pete​ ​is​ ​a​ ​head​ ​scratcher.​ ​We​ ​follow​ ​innovative,​ ​hardworking​ ​people​ ​in​ ​both​ ​our​ ​league managers​ ​and​ ​the​ ​communities​ ​surrounding​ ​them,​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​a​ ​specific​ ​expansion​ ​map.​ ​St. Pete​ ​might​ ​seem​ ​like​ ​a​ ​fluke,​ ​but​ ​when​ ​you​ ​dig​ ​in​ ​a​ ​little,​ ​you​ ​see​ ​that​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a​ ​perfect​ ​fit.” Specifically,​ ​Gara​ ​is​ ​referring​ ​to​ ​Lauren​ ​and​ ​Matt​ ​Segedin,​ ​American​ ​Bocce’s​ ​newest​ ​league managers,​ ​and​ ​Intermezzo​ ​Coffee​ ​&​ ​Cocktails,​ ​the​ ​host​ ​venue​ ​for​ ​the​ ​upcoming​ ​social​ ​bocce leagues.

With​ ​two​ ​outdoor​ ​bocce​ ​ball​ ​courts​ ​built​ ​on​ ​its​ ​property,​ ​Intermezzo​ ​has​ ​the​ ​foundation​ ​in place.​ ​Beyond​ ​the​ ​infrastructure,​ ​Gara​ ​and​ ​ABC​ ​co-founder​ ​Alicia​ ​Harvey​ ​were​ ​impressed​ ​by Intermezzo’s​ ​thoughtful​ ​cocktails​ ​and​ ​attention​ ​to​ ​detail​ ​and​ ​design.​ ​They​ ​also​ ​appreciated​ ​that Intermezzo​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​developers​ ​share​ ​the​ ​principles​ ​of​ ​community-building​ ​that​ ​the​ ​ABC founders​ ​consider​ ​part​ ​of​ ​their​ ​DNA.

Jarrett​ ​Sabatini,​ ​Owner​ ​of​ ​Intermezzo,​ ​is​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​see​ ​the​ ​bocce​ ​courts​ ​activated​ ​and​ ​a​ ​loyal customer-base​ ​grow​ ​from​ ​the​ ​bocce​ ​leagues.​​ ​​“​Bringing​ ​together​ ​the​ ​neighborhood​ ​while​ ​the weather​ ​is​ ​at​ ​its​ ​peak​ ​and​ ​playing​ ​bocce​ ​with​ ​cocktails​ ​under​ ​25​ ​foot​ ​Royal​ ​Palm​ ​trees?​ ​That’s winning.​ ​Bocce​ ​is​ ​a​ ​quintessential​ ​Florida​ ​sport​ ​and​ ​I’m​ ​super​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​add​ ​this​ ​to​ ​St.​ ​Pete’s love​ ​of​ ​league​ ​sports.​”
Co-Founder​ ​of​ ​American​ ​Bocce,​ ​Alicia​ ​Harvey​ ​added​ ​insight​ ​from​ ​her​ ​perspective,​ ​”It​ ​was​ ​a perfect​ ​storm.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​known​ ​and​ ​trusted​ ​Lauren​ ​for​ ​a​ ​very​ ​long​ ​time.​ ​The​ ​venue​ ​and neighborhood​ ​was​ ​looking​ ​to​ ​do​ ​something​ ​completely​ ​on​ ​par​ ​with​ ​our​ ​mission.​ ​We​ ​even​ ​had encouragement​ ​from​ ​Jonathan​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Shuffleboard​ ​Club.”​ ​​Here​ ​Harvey​ ​is​ ​referring​ ​to​ ​the Mirror​ ​Lake​ ​Shuffleboard​ ​Club​ ​in​ ​downtown​ ​St​ ​Pete,​ ​the​ ​World’s​ ​largest​ ​shuffleboard​ ​club.​ ​She heard​ ​about​ ​the​ ​Mirror​ ​Lake​ ​club​ ​from​ ​fellow​ ​social​ ​sports​ ​enthusiast​ ​and​ ​Brooklyn-based​ ​Royal Palms​ ​Shuffleboard​ ​Club​ ​co-founder​ ​Jonathan​ ​Schnapp.

The​ ​Shuffleboard​ ​Club​ ​is​ ​just​ ​a​ ​few​ ​short​ ​blocks​ ​from​ ​Intermezzo​ ​and​ ​both​ ​Schnapp​ ​and​ ​Harvey see​ ​that​ ​as​ ​encouragement​ ​that​ ​St.​ ​Pete​ ​is​ ​on​ ​the​ ​forefront​ ​of​ ​creative​ ​community​ ​building. “American​ ​Bocce​ ​is​ ​comprised​ ​of​ ​so​ ​many​ ​terrific​ ​people.​ ​St.​ ​Pete​ ​is​ ​an​ ​incredible​ ​town​ ​full​ ​of folks​ ​who​ ​match​ ​that​ ​great​ ​spirit.​ ​I’m​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​see​ ​this​ ​take​ ​off.”​ ​​ ​Harvey​ ​goes​ ​on​ ​to​ ​simply add,​ ​”Rising​ ​tides​ ​lift​ ​all​ ​boats.”

Bocce​ ​ball​ ​is​ ​an​ ​age-old​ ​participation​ ​sport​ ​rooted​ ​in​ ​tradition.​ ​After​ ​building​ ​bocce​ ​ball​ ​courts on​ ​vacant​ ​city​ ​lots​ ​of​ ​Chicago​ ​in​ ​2013,​ ​the​ ​founders​ ​of​ ​American​ ​Bocce​ ​Company​ ​recognized that​ ​the​ ​sport​ ​may​ ​have​ ​suffered​ ​from​ ​a​ ​stigma​ ​of​ ​exclusivity.​ ​Wanting​ ​to​ ​rid​ ​the​ ​sport​ ​of​ ​this stigma,​ ​American​ ​Bocce​ ​focused​ ​its​ ​attention​ ​to​ ​community-development​ ​and​ ​inclusiveness.​ ​It is​ ​from​ ​that​ ​point​ ​forward​ ​that​ ​the​ ​sport​ ​gained​ ​a​ ​newfound​ ​popularity​ ​and​ ​resurgence​ ​in​ ​the social​ ​sports​ ​market.​ ​Because​ ​of​ ​their​ ​unique​ ​approach​ ​to​ ​the​ ​game,​ ​no​ ​experience​ ​or​ ​skill​ ​is necessary.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​certainly​ ​a​ ​level​ ​of​ ​competitiveness​ ​but​ ​for​ ​a​ ​social​ ​sports​ ​company,​ ​ABC​ ​is more​ ​social​ ​than​ ​sport.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​a​ ​nearly​ ​equal​ ​split​ ​of​ ​men​ ​and​ ​women​ ​in​ ​the​ ​leagues,​ ​and​ ​an incredibly​ ​high​ ​retention​ ​rate​ ​in​ ​teams​ ​is​ ​the​ ​result​ ​of​ ​opponents​ ​become​ ​friends​ ​over​ ​time.

The​ ​Midwest​ ​start-up​ ​has​ ​spent​ ​much​ ​of​ ​its​ ​early​ ​stages​ ​testing​ ​the​ ​limits​ ​of​ ​just​ ​how​ ​far​ ​bocce can​ ​reach.​ ​In​ ​early​ ​2016,​ ​American​ ​Bocce​ ​Company​ ​introduced​ ​its​ ​unique​ ​version​ ​of​ ​the​ ​sport​ ​to Carnival​ ​Cruise​ ​Lines​ ​and​ ​after​ ​a​ ​successful​ ​on-board​ ​training,​ ​has​ ​outfitted​ ​18​ ​ships​ ​across Carnival’s​ ​fleet​ ​in​ ​the​ ​U.S.​ ​They’ve​ ​also​ ​successfully​ ​started​ ​leagues​ ​in​ ​Knoxville,​ ​Milwaukee, Brooklyn,​ ​Boston,​ ​and​ ​Long​ ​Island.​ ​When​ ​it​ ​came​ ​time​ ​to​ ​fully​ ​expand​ ​to​ ​a​ ​new​ ​city,​ ​American Bocce​ ​set​ ​its​ ​sights​ ​on​ ​sunny​ ​St.​ ​Pete.

American​ ​Bocce’s​ ​first​ ​St.​ ​Pete​ ​league​ ​commences​ ​with​ ​a​ ​Launch​ ​Party​ ​on​ ​Friday,​ ​January​ ​12th, where​ ​the​ ​whole​ ​community​ ​is​ ​welcome​ ​to​ ​come​ ​by​ ​Intermezzo​ ​and​ ​experience​ ​ABC’s​ ​take​ ​on bocce.​ ​The​ ​first​ ​league​ ​begins​ ​on​ ​Monday,​ ​January​ ​22nd​ ​and​ ​runs​ ​for​ ​seven​ ​weeks.​ ​Teams​ ​play two​ ​games​ ​a​ ​night​ ​each​ ​Monday.​ ​Teams​ ​line​ ​up​ ​with​ ​four​ ​players​ ​per​ ​game​ ​and​ ​can​ ​keep​ ​up​ ​to eight​ ​players​ ​per​ ​side.​ ​Cost​ ​is​ ​$260/team​ ​per​ ​season.​ ​Registration​ ​is​ ​active​ ​at www.americanbocceco.com​.