A golf-centered entertainment venue is planned for north Springfield, and another company with a similar concept is eyeing the market.
Springfield businessman Tim O’Reilly has signed on as a franchisee to bring a BigShots Golf driving range to Kearney Street and Glenstone Avenue where a Kmart building sits vacant.
O’Reilly signed on with Peoria, Illinois-based BigShots Golf LLC. The plans filed with the city call for 54 driving range bays on two stories, an outdoor putting green, a full restaurant and bar, an activity center for kids and a golf academy. The design also includes meeting and event space on 11 acres spanning four parcels between 1930 and 1950 E. Kearney St., according to the Springfield Board of Adjustment’s Dec. 4 minutes.
“We are about to finish our architectural design documents for it,” O’Reilly said.
Meanwhile, officials with another golf entertainment complex, Topgolf, say Springfield is on their minds but no plans have been formed yet.
“There are several factors that our real estate team looks at before coming to a location,” said Morgan Schaaf, Topgolf communications manager, via email. “I know Springfield is on our radar, but we have no specific plans at this time.”
She did not provide the company’s site specifications for new markets and was not available via phone.
For BigShots, O’Reilly plans to start construction in the first quarter, and he expects a 10-month project timeline. He’s hired Peoria-based Demonica Kemper Architects LLC for the design, and once completed, O’Reilly said the construction will go out to bid.
He said a budget for the project has yet to be finalized.
According to a published report in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a BigShots development is under consideration, the cost to build the concept is $17 million to $20 million.
BigShots and Topgolf bring the digital age to the driving range in slightly different ways.
“What differentiates BigShots is a digital technology as you’re driving the ball,” O’Reilly said. “They have a Doppler radar on them. There’s a screen placed next to bays to select games.”
Some of the games at BigShots include target practice, or playing a virtual version of real courses like those at Augusta National Golf Club or St. Andrews Golf Club. Once the ball is hit, a golfer can watch on-screen a virtual re-creation of where their shot would land.
Topgolf has a similar technology with its Topgolf Swing Suite simulator and Toptracer Range, according to its website.
O’Reilly said area high schools and universities would be invited to use the BigShots range and academy for year-round training.
“I haven’t talked to them in detail, but it’s part of the model to have a golf academy,” he said.
For the restaurant, O’Reilly said a full menu has been selected, with American fare, healthy foods and some nontraditional items like sushi.
BigShots would employ 30 to 40 people, both full and part-time, O’Reilly said.
Tale of two concepts
BigShots has two locations listed on its website, in Vero Beach, Florida, its first location, and in Lubbock, Texas. Another development was planned in Peoria, according to reporting by The Journal Star, but it has not begun construction after its announcement more than a year ago.
Another announced plan is in New Jersey, where BigShots is partnering with All Play USA LLC for a family activity center, according to an October 2018 news release.
Corporate filings with the Illinois secretary of state’s office identifies Jason Payne as BigShots’ organizer in 2015, and his LinkedIn profile lists him as a founding partner. He was not available for comment before press time.
Dallas-based Topgolf is larger and has a longer track record.
There are 47 Topgolf locations in the U.S. and four internationally, where the company started in 2000. Its first location was in the United Kingdom, and it expanded to the U.S. in 2005, according to its website. The venues combined attracted 13 million visitors in 2017, according to the company. There are 12 more locations planned.
The nearest Topgolf to Springfield is in Overland Park, Kansas, which opened in 2015, according to Kansas City Business Journal reports at the time. The published reports cited average development costs between $16 million and $18 million.
Topgolf currently is building in Rogers, Arkansas, according to a company news release, and its newest venue is slated to open early this year in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, according to a news release.
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