CAI sports complex reopens in Mount Olive
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 1, 2011 1:48 PM
After eight months and several thousand dollars in repairs, the C.A.I Sports complex in Mount Olive is once again open and ready for business.
The new era in C.A.I Sports' history began Saturday with a grand opening. It was an especially proud moment for founder Carlos Bacarili, and business partner and friend Will Adler.
"It's amazing to see the finished product of all the hard work that went into getting the complex ready," Bacarili said. "Now we have an indoor soccer field and new turf for the kids to play on."
The idea for C.A.I came to Bacrili in 2009 when he saw an opportunity with his business. During tough economic times, Bacarili's wholesale company's warehouse sat mostly empty. One day the enterprising father decided to move a portable basketball hoop inside and paint lines on the concrete floor so he and his son could shoot no matter the weather.
"There were only a few pallets in here at the time," Bacarili said. "So I painted a basketball court on the floor and put the hoop in. After a few days, I saw an opportunity to fill a need in the community not just for me and my son."
Bacarili added an enclosed daycare area for small children, some tables and chairs so kids could do homework after school and some other basic sports equipment.
For more than a year Bacarili and Adler welcomed all kinds of school children to the warehouse. That was until an anonymous call to the Wayne County building inspector put a halt to the duo's dream of creating a community center.
Unphased by being shut down, Bacarili went to work to make improvements to the facility and bring it up to code. Support from Bobby Denning Furniture, Case Farms, El Mazatlan and Toreros helped keep the center alive.
"The people who have supported this project have done so much to help us," Bacarili said. "It's been eight months of hard work to get everything up to building codes and make the necessary improvements."
Bacarili added an indoor soccer field to the complex thanks to a nice gesture from a business owner in Georgia. After inquiring about field turf for inside the building, Bacarili took a trip to the Georgia-Alabama line with a truck ready to purchase and haul the turf himself.
The owner of the turf company sent Bacarili home empty-handed, but not without reason.
"He told me that if I bought the turf and hauled it myself I would have to pay Georgia sales tax," Bacarili said. "Because of the tax-exempt rules for businesses in Georgia he could ship the turf to me and I wouldn't have to pay the tax. That saved us a lot of money and was a really nice thing for him to do."
Now the complex, located at 922 N. Breazelle Ave., is back in full swing. But that does not mean that Bacarili is done improving the facility or helping local children. He is working with a fitness instructor to create a Zumba dance class for women on designated days of the week. A martial arts group will also be using the complex.
Tutoring and help with school work will also be available after school. There are currently 150 children registered with C.A.I Sports.
"I grew up in Argentina, and in the winter it was windy and cold," Bacarili said. "A center like this opened in my home town with 40 kids. After five years they had 200 kids. It helped a lot of people and I hope that our place here in Mount Olive can help as many people as possible."