August 03, 2015

Bocce Courts Beckon Workers

By Mitchell Kline
– The Tennessean –

FRANKLIN – It’s a bit of an unusual site for a commercial center, or even a park for that matter.

Surrounded by the restaurants, offices and shops at the growing Meridian Cool Springs development off of Carothers Parkway are a pair of bocce courts. The bowling-style sport imported from Italy has become a hit with office workers who need a break from desk duty.

The courts were installed a few weeks ago, primarily for the Fall Festival held by the development’s overseer, Boyle Investment Company. Boyle gave bocce balls to all of its tenants and invited all of the businesses to participate in the tournament.

“It helps draw people out of their offices and creates more of a community-type environment,” said Adam Ballash, development manager for Boyle.

Thus, the bocce phenomenon began to flourish. Six teams, one from each of Meridian’s office buildings, competed in an hours-long bocce tournament in October. The winning team, from Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, walked away with a 2-foot-tall trophy and bragging rights. A local chapter of the Order of the Sons of Italy in America offered coaching to those who had never played before.

Jeff Haynes, a partner at Boyle, said the idea of putting in the courts was to create an additional gathering point – but they won’t always be there. The spot the courts occupy is intended for a restaurant one day. The courts will remain until Boyle finds a buyer.

Until then, Haynes said, bocce will be a “cost-effective” way of providing entertainment to tenants and patrons of Meridian. The courts add the element of “play” to the development’s marketing slogan: “work, dine, shop, stay.”

Lane Martin, branch director of Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, said the courts do make the development feel more like a neighborhood.

“The first day they appeared, there were people out playing,” Martin said. “It’s been a very good way to meet your neighbors and match names with faces.”

John Page, expansion director for Franklin American Mortgage Co.’s retail division, located at Meridian, said the bocce courts have also been a source of stress relief.

“Especially when you’re in the mortgage business,” Page said.

Ballash said there’s a chance that bocce balls could be given to some of the shops and restaurants, which would be loaned to customers who want to play a game.

The only other spot to play bocce in Williamson County is Granny White Park, where the local chapter of the Order of the Sons of Italy in America installed Brentwood’s year-round bocce court in 2005.