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- 2014 - January - 14th -

TopGolf considering Jacksonville center

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

TopGolf, the Dallas-based operator of multilevel golfing entertainment centers, is reviewing Jacksonville for development.

The company announced in December that it would break ground on its first Florida location early this year near Tampa, indicating there would be more in the state.

Asked about Jacksonville, a spokeswoman confirmed it is possible.

"It's being considered," said TopGolf Senior Communications Manager Adrienne Browne.

Browne said TopGolf is evaluating several major cities in Florida for potential TopGolf locations and hopes to choose a second location in the state next year.

"While we don't yet have a TopGolf facility planned for Jacksonville in 2014, we are excited by this market's potential for the future," she said.

Browne said the company develops on sites of about 12 acres and that it takes about nine months to complete. She said ideal locations are high-traffic, well-populated areas near businesses and retail and housing developments.

As a privately held company, TopGolf does not disclose financial information but will say its community economic output is $264.5 million over 10 years, or about $26.5 million a year.

Browne said each center creates 450 jobs, with 100 of those full time or full-time equivalents.

TopGolf won't confirm any specific sites of interest, but considering the number of golf courses in Northeast Florida and the golf programs at area schools, a local project seems realistic.

In announcing the Tampa-area location, in Brandon, TopGolf said it would be the 14th location worldwide. Early this month, it announced San Antonio as the 15th location.

Construction will start in the first quarter on the 65,000-square-foot facility in Tampa for a fall opening. TopGolf Tampa will be near Interstate 75 and the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway.

The three-level location, constructed by ARCO/Murray, will include up to 2,900 square feet of private event space and 102 climate-controlled hitting bays that can host up to six players at one time, says TopGolf.

TopGolf, which says it is the only entertainment center of its kind, offers competitive golfing games for all ages and skill levels and advanced technology to track each player's shots.

TopGolf describes how it works:

Players hit golf balls containing computer microchips that track each shot's accuracy and distance while also awarding points for hitting targets on the outfield.

Each facility features climate-controlled hitting bays and a food and beverage menu crafted by an executive chef.

"Mix in dynamic event spaces for groups of all sizes, and TopGolf stands as the premier entertainment complex where the competition of sport meets the neighborhood's favorite hangout," it says.

"Those who just want to relax can enjoy the upscale, laid-back ambience that boasts more than 230 high-definition flat-screen TVs and an extensive food and beverage menu," it says.

TopGolf Chief Development Officer Randy Starr said in the announcement that Tampa "is undeniably one of the best outdoor cities in America, making it an ideal location for a year-round recreational activity like TopGolf."

He estimates TopGolf Tampa will serve about 400,000 visitors in its first year of operation. Nearly half of all TopGolf guests describe themselves as non-golfers.

TopGolf is being developed near Bass Pro Shops, prompting a statement from Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan that the two will comprise "an overall regional entertainment destination venue."

He said in the announcement the county will assist in roadway improvements for TopGolf.

TopGolf was founded in 2000. Each location creates "hundreds of jobs," said the announcement.

TopGolf lists 15 locations: seven in Texas, three in the United Kingdom and one each in Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Illinois and Virginia.

Ten are open and the five "coming soon" comprise Florida; the Georgia center in Alpharetta; the Arizona location in Scottsdale; and two in Texas.

Browne said economic incentives are not a requirement for TopGolf to enter a market.

"We simply look for a competitive deal and the best opportunity for the company to succeed in a new location," she said.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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