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.