My name is Mike Dominguez. After years of preparation, I opened a world-class snooker club named Baize on February 29th, 2020. Up to that point, Leap Day was the most interesting news of the year. For us, it was a special day because our dream of bringing a world-class snooker club to Seattle had come to fruition. We overcame incredible obstacles as we pulled off a fantastic sold-out Grand Opening Snooker Exhibition Match: Canada vs. The USA. It was the first snooker event in Seattle, and people came from all over WA State to attend. Several people said, "Thank you for bringing snooker to Seattle. This is amazing." The snooker revolution had begun, and the energy was inspiring.
After the exhibition match, our customers wanted more. A few professional Snooker players from The UK heard about Baize and wanted to visit to put on an exhibition and coaching courses for our customers. The first player was supposed to visit in May 2020. So, Baize announced upcoming snooker tournaments where the top two players would win a chance to play against a professional snooker player from the World Snooker Tour. Our tourney sold out within a week. The ball was rolling, so to speak, and snooker was taking off in a short amount of time, but that tournament was not going to happen. Right when I thought we had cleared the most tumultuous stress point, the Grand Opening, we immediately went back into stress mode because on March 18th we had to shut down due to the pandemic.
Three years of planning, promoting, saving money, and guerrilla marketing had ended abruptly. We started the business with minimal debt, except for the club's last improvements that had doubled in cost. We had start-up funds reserved for our slow months of starting a unique business, but they were reliant on Baize being open for business. So, the critical revenue that was required had disappeared. We had no idea there would be a stoppage of business for 5+ months, and our mission of making Baize a healthful place to raise the standard of cue-sports was in peril.
What Is Snooker?
What is snooker, you may ask? It is a professional sport that is more difficult than American Pool. and requires years of practice and training to master. Our specialized equipment is the pro snooker tables/equipment. You will not find these tables in any other WA business or club. Snooker is a sport requiring strategy and endurance. Practicing snooker properly will increase fitness for the body and mind.
Baize's mission is to improve the standard of cue-sports in Seattle and to build a snooker community in the process. It is a beautiful game with high standards for player etiquette and professionalism. This is not a bar game, and Baize is not a bar. We offer lessons, coaching sessions, professional coaching for serious players, and both private and public memberships. We are an all-ages club and will build adult and youth snooker leagues. I believe that building self-efficacy while teaching snooker can help students apply that self-efficacy in other aspects of these difficult times. It is a sport of decisions, mental and physical strength, and body control.
How Baize is a Different Type of Club
I decided to get the world's best snooker tables and connect with the proper snooker associations, pro players, and coaches to complete Baize's mission and goals. Here is a list of what makes Baize a unique place for all ages to practice and train for cue-sports and snooker, and remember, much of this was accomplished during a pandemic and an economic shutdown:
1. We have four world-class tables, Xing Pai Star Professional Snooker Tables. These tables are the same ones used by the World Snooker Tour. These are not club tables; these are tournament tables with the tightest pockets, heated slate, and tournament baize (the cloth is called, baize). These Pro tables are custom made to order, and it took three months for them to arrive in Seattle. We acquired these tables from the only US Star Distributor, Arizona Snooker Academy, and their diligence made the tables arrive just in time for our Grand Opening. With 20/20 hindsight, we made the right decision to go with them. If we had been one day late, then we would not have had our amazing Grand Opening, and the Cue-Sports Live stream would never have happened.
2. We helped The Eastlake Zoo Tavern by refurbishing their 100-year-old snooker table, a table I used for years prior to opening Baize. I promised myself that I would redo their table when I opened my own club. I hired Simon Barker, the best table mechanic in the world, who works on World Snooker tournaments. We flew Simon into work on Baize’s tables and redo The Zoo’s table. This fulfilled my promise, and also made it easier to start a snooker league since The Zoo’s table was now restored with a new baize, leather pockets, and pocket rails.
3. I am a member of The United States Snooker Association (USSA) and have secured two ranking tournaments a year, including the US Championships. It would be the FIRST time a USSA championship would be held in Seattle. One of the requirements was for a club to have four or more tables. Another was to have enough space for an audience, which we proved within our opening day exhibition. Things were in place for success.
4. I am a member and referee for Snooker Canada. I have played in tournaments in Canada and took an accredited referee class with the world-class referee, Michaela Tabb. Snooker Canada supported our Grand Opening massively; they sent two players, a referee, a camera crew for live-streaming on Cue-Sports Live, and their talented live commentator.
5. I have worked with the Women's World Snooker Tour to hold a future ranking event at Baize. This is the FIRST time a tournament from any World Snooker Organization would be held in the USA.
6. We have several World Snooker professional players that want to come to our club for coaching and exhibition matches. These events inspire students because they will learn from the best players in the world.
7. We have access to professional coaches like Nic Barrow and Chris Henry. I am currently a student of Nic and have also signed up for a coaching course from Chris Henry to better my coaching skills for beginners.
8. We have partnered with coach Darren Taylor, the Pan American Snooker and Billiards Association (PASBA) for coaching classes. The PASBA supports players from this side of the pond to become better players and compete in World Snooker tournaments in Europe and worldwide.
9. We have partnered with Legends Cue Sports and used their sanitizer made specifically for snooker tables and certified by UK health departments. We are the only supplier in Seattle, and these sanitizers are suitable for pool tables.
10. We have several training tools and specialized equipment for body control, accuracy, and strength conditioning.
11. We offer free lessons as well as paid coaching sessions for one-on-one training.
12. I have spoken with Pioneer Square homeless shelters about holding regular classes for homeless people. As mentioned, there are opportunities to teach self-efficacy while teaching snooker. I have studied these processes at my MPH program at UW and wanted to use these skills in the real world.
13. We have 24/7 access for private members that want to train after or before hours.
The Pandemic Effect
After our Grand Opening, things turned very quickly. We learned that we would have to shut down before the 20th and closed on the 18th due to Covid.
Since our grand opening was so close to the pandemic's start, we have not qualified for any loans or grants. All my start-up money has had to be used to stay afloat during the five months of closure. And I have now used most of my personal savings in hopes of keeping all that I have worked for.
Our customers' response to our grand opening and the weeks afterward gave us hope to stay in the fight for the long haul and hope to re-open. After partnering with Legends and using their sanitizer made for snooker, and after talking thoroughly with SKCPH about my qualifications and sanitizing strategy, we re-opened on August 13th. As a previous dental lab owner, I understand universal precautions, and because of my MPH, I understand the importance of slowing the spread.
Our customers have expressed confidence in my diligence for safety and being strict on universal precautions. Our community has grown from Aug-Oct, despite our limited reach due to Covid. We know Baize is special because we are a safe place to learn, train, and compete in a sport that requires our physical and mental best. We also hear it every day from our members. We just need more time to grow this beautiful sport.
Use of Funds
This round of shutdowns is severely harmful to us, and any immediate help is gratefully appreciated. Baize will use all donations to keep us afloat until we can re-open and become stable. We will use them for our fixed costs which include rent, NNN, insurance, security systems, utilities, internet, etc., as well as past due fixed costs. Our goal amount will help us survive for three months. At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, I am not receiving any income as all revenue has been directed to fixed and variable costs such as marketing, market research, inventory, business model adjustments and associated inventory, etc. I hope that you will see the value Baize brings to Seattle. Thank you very much to all that support us whether by donations or sharing this campaign with people who might be interested.
Michael Dominguez, MPH
- Andrea Serna
- Thomas Miller
- Margaret Salazar
- Bob Seel
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