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September 4, 2023

Litchfield businessman Mark Greenberg doubles down on Windsor sports and entertainment complex

HBJ PHOTO | MICHAEL PUFFER (From left) Litchfield real estate investor Mark Greenberg, FastPitch Nation owner David Rocha, Dudleytown Brewing Co. founder Daryle Dunlap and Day Hill Dome President Vincent DiCarlo.

Whether it’s $4 million committed to a nearly complete sports dome, or plans to invest $7 million in a hotel, Litchfield businessman Mark Greenberg is significantly increasing his stake in an effort to develop a premium sports and entertainment complex on former tobacco fields in Windsor.

Greenberg’s vision is shared by owners of a new brewery, popular softball park, and other businesses that are either leasing or buying space on the 150-acre development site.

And it’s beginning to manifest itself in striking ways.

The 16,500-square-foot Dudleytown Brewing Co. held its grand opening Aug. 12, drawing about 1,500 patrons on day one. In the days that followed, thrumming compressors began inflating an 82-foot-tall sports dome a short distance away.

With an indoor artificial turf field, the dome is expected to be ready for its first soccer practices in mid-November.

Dudleytown occupies a corner of Greenberg’s roughly 100,000-square-foot building at 1001 Day Hill Road, which also hosts a collection of retailers and restaurants.

Greenberg’s expansive Windsor property is also home to Fastpitch Nation’s 11 softball fields. Plans are in the works for a 3,000-seat bicycle racing arena, with an attached field house for various sports.

Greenberg expects two hotels to begin construction at different corners of the property over the coming year — one of which he will own.

An aerial photograph of the sports complex under construction along Day Hill Road in Windsor.

“This is a dream,” Greenberg said of his Windsor development. “I’m not taking the best financial deal on it. But I have something you can look back on for years and years to come.”

There is a profit to be made, but the development path Greenberg has chosen requires time, patience and faith, he said.

And not just on Greenberg’s part.

Perseverance pays off

Daryle Dunlap decided to abandon a lucrative environmental remediation career four years ago for a shot at turning his love of craft brewing into a profession. But pandemic-related delays and challenges significantly disrupted his efforts to open Dudleytown Brewing.

The interior of the Dudleytown Brewing Co., which opened in August.

A growing circle of family and friend investors provided the financing and elbow grease needed to see the project through. Dunlap also credits Greenberg with holding open a corner of his Day Hill Road building, and making property improvements needed to support the brewery.

“He believed in us,” Dunlap said of Greenberg. “Once we had our finances in place, he was fully on board with doing whatever he needed to do with the building. We could not have done it without him.”

Dudleytown’s space mingles rustic and industrial features. Rough-hewn wooden tables are spaced among a dark, high-ceiling decor with a row of large, roughed-up wooden beams suspended by ceiling cables.

A towering silver tree made of sheet metal stretches up along one corner. Three huge stainless-steel vats, with an array of gauges and control equipment used in the brewing process, are separated from crowds by a glass wall.

A massive concrete deck at the rear of the brewery features picnic tables, a bar and seating overlooking Fastpitch Nation’s fields and the Day Hill Dome.

The dome is the brainchild of Vincent DiCarlo, who shuttered his marketing business years ago to pursue his dream of a soccer park.

Greenberg stepped in to rescue the $11 million dome project during the pandemic, when financing for businesses depending on mass gatherings was hard to find. Greenberg’s investment — which has reached about $4 million — helped convince other lenders to come aboard.

Building momentum

The dome is expected to be inflated this month, with its indoor field ready by mid-November. One of four outdoor fields is also expected to be ready in September.

DiCarlo said the facility will serve as the practice field for the Hartford Athletic professional soccer team, which will run youth camps there as well. The fields will also be open for rent by other youth teams.

Greenberg, 69, hasn’t just been an angel investor for DiCarlo. He’s a mentor and friend.

“We have the same vision, the same passion for this project,” DiCarlo said. “It could never have happened without him, his support as a landlord and businessperson and investor. Mark kept us afloat. Mark kept us running.”

DiCarlo said the Day Hill Dome and its fields are about 80% booked through next June. People are excited about the Dome’s unique offering and the complementary businesses around it, he said.

“We are going to send people over to the brewery,” DiCarlo said. “Mark’s not just putting together individual pieces. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

Greenberg said the momentum of his Windsor development is owed in large part to the proof-of-concept offered by the four-year-old Fastpitch Nation facility.

Rendering of the sports complex under construction along Day Hill Road in Windsor.

Fastpitch Nation owner David Rocha said the fall schedule for his fields was booked within 15 days of registration opening Aug. 1. There are 100 teams on the waitlist, he said.

Of the 336 teams signed up to participate in eight tournaments at the Fastpitch Nation softball fields, 214 are staying in local hotels, Rocha said.

More to come

Two hotels are also planned for the Day Hill Road site.

Groton businessman Jimmy Patel is expected to begin building a 110-room Home 2 Suites hotel later this year on a 3.5-acre parcel he purchased from Greenberg.

A 95-room Microtel has received local land use approvals for Greenberg’s development zone, but the family behind the venture withdrew for personal reasons, Greenberg said. Even so, Greenberg said he plans to step in to build the hotel, which will cost about $7 million and occupy land worth another $2 million.

Greenberg said he expects to break ground in early 2024, with an estimated 18-month construction period.

“It’s just another piece of this tremendous partnership,” Greenberg said. “Two hotels are necessary. The zoning is all done. It’s ready to build and, less important, it’s going to be very profitable because the audience is built in. Between David Rocha and Fastpitch Nation’s 12,000 room nights a year, and Vinnie’s dome, there will be a certain number of room nights a year.”

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