Top Brooklyn Center city officials expressed confidence Thursday that a glitzy and high-tech all-season golf center will be open by next year, welcoming thousands of visitors and employing several hundred people.
Dallas-based Topgolf, whose more than 30 locations elsewhere around the country offer multilevel hitting bays with balls tracked by data-absorbing microchips, should break ground later this year on a new location, where a Regal Cinemas complex now operates, said a Topgolf spokeswoman and city officials.
Topgolf has a deal with Tennessee-based Regal to buy the 15-acre property near where Interstate 694 and Hwy. 252 intersect, and the city’s Economic Development Authority will review zoning and permit requirements in a hearing Monday, said City Manager Curt Boganey.
“This is a major turn of events for Brooklyn Center to have this type of destination center,” Mayor Tim Wilson said Thursday. “Topgolf is very popular, and we’re excited about it.”
Wilson said he expects Topgolf to employ more than 475 people in Brooklyn Center. When the company announced in February that it was opening its 32nd center in Fort Worth, Texas, this spring, it put out a call for applicants for roughly 500 jobs to staff the 65,000-square-foot location.
Topgolf said in a site plan filed with the city that the center will have 102 multiplayer bays, 11 exterior targets, 270 flat-screen televisions, a 50-table restaurant, a 3,000-square-foot terrace and another 3,000 square feet for hosting private gatherings.
Its pitch to the city also included a pledge that “all [military] veterans and local emergency responders are provided a pricing discount. And, as part of its commitment to young people and the game of golf, all local nonprofit youth programs can play golf for free.”
Topgolf said its centers have drawn more than 10 million customer visits annually, prompting the company to lay claim to being “the world’s largest digital golf audience.”
The closest Topgolf outlets to the Twin Cities are the two in suburban Chicago. A reviewer in the Chicago Tribune visited the one in Wood Dale and noted how she continued to smack balls into the outdoors landing area even while it was raining thanks to the bay being sheltered and heated. Each bay has its own table, and golfers take turns much like what groups do while bowling.
Wilson said he sees nothing to prevent the project from becoming reality, and Regal is scheduled to shut down and begin demolition in July ahead of the Topgolf project breaking ground in the fall.
Boganey said Topgolf “wants to be open in 2018, I assume in the latter part.”
Wilson said “Regal was going to go no matter what. They’ve been looking for a willing buyer for several months.”
Topgolf came to the city inquiring about the property, the mayor added, and there are no publicly financial incentives being promised to Topgolf.
“The only thing we dangled to them is, you are certainly welcome in Brooklyn Center,” he said.
Council Member Dan Ryan said that part of the city is an “area that could see significant development. ... It’s a great location. That’s one of the things that Brooklyn Center has. We’re seeing millennials moving in and want to be in the core cities or the first-tier suburbs like ours.”
Ryan added that some movie theaters like Regal’s in Brooklyn Center are finding it increasingly challenging to compete for patrons because “the public has so many options to view movies at home.”
Along with being open 12 months, Topgolf operating hours run as late as midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
At the center in Wood Dale, prices range from as little $4 per game during certain hours to monthly memberships of $125 that includes unlimited play and other perks. In Las Vegas, bays are priced from $30 to $75 an hour, depending on the day of the week, time of the day and the bay’s level. Each bay can accommodate up to six players.
Minnesota has long ranked near the top nationally in number of golfers per capita, subzero winters notwithstanding. Roughly 400 courses in the state are registered with the Minnesota Golf Association, which says it has 66,000 individual members.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482