Topgolf Birmingham tees up the next round of growth around the BJCC

Topgolf Birmingham tees up the next round of growth around the BJCC
Topgolf venues offer more than the golf games that dominate the landscape. (Topgolf)

Topgolf is set to bring a new kind of clubbing to Birmingham’s growing entertainment scene.

After winning incentives and other approvals from the Birmingham City Council Tuesday, the popular sports entertainment company said the Magic City will be its first location in Alabama.

Topgolf Birmingham will build a 65,000-square-foot venue on a 10-acre site along 12th Avenue North near Carraway Boulevard. The development will expand the Uptown Entertainment District next to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Construction starts in early 2017 with completion and opening expected before the end of the year.

“These past few years, the residents of Birmingham haven’t been shy about asking us to bring Topgolf to Alabama, so we are really excited to become a part of this community,” CEO Ken May told Alabama NewsCenter. “Not only will we be offering residents another destination for year-round entertainment, but we will also be creating hundreds of new jobs and giving back to local schools and charities. And I can’t neglect to mention that we are really looking forward to some spirited game-watching parties with Alabama and Auburn fans.”

While the initial emphasis of a Topgolf venue is on the large, colorful range for golfing games, there will also be a restaurant and main bar area with additional bars and food service throughout the three-level venue. An abundance of big-screen televisions ensures sports fans won’t miss games, such as the Iron Bowl.

“As we look to expand in the Southeast, Birmingham is a key market that has been on Topgolf’s radar for a long time,” said Devin Charhon, director of real estate development. “With all the recent development in the downtown Birmingham area and all that the Uptown Entertainment District around the BJCC offers, we look forward to bringing a new option for entertainment to the Birmingham market.”

Topgolf Birmingham will create 500 full- and part-time jobs and is expected to have an economic impact approaching $265 million over 10 years. The city agreed to eight years of incentives valued at up to $1.5 million.

“Since its inception several years ago, Topgolf has grown to be a leader among sports and entertainment venues to be found anywhere,” Birmingham Mayor William Bell said. “The successful recruiting effort that resulted in Topgolf coming to the city’s Uptown District was a tireless effort led by our Office of Economic Development with great assistance from Alabama Power and several other business partners in Birmingham. We appreciate Topgolf’s decision to come to Birmingham, as well as the local team effort that brought another highly respected company to our city.”

Patrick Murphy, vice president of Economic and Community Development with Alabama Power, said projects like Topgolf contribute something different when it comes to economic growth.

“We’re pleased that Topgolf’s deliberate and thoughtful site search led them to choose this growing part of Birmingham,” Murphy said. “These types of venues contribute greatly to quality of life, and that is an important component to economic development.”

Topgolf Birmingham will be open year-round with 3,000 square feet of private event space and 102 climate-controlled hitting bays that can host up to six players at once. Charhon estimates that Topgolf Birmingham will draw 450,000 visitors in its first year and, if trends hold true, nearly half of them will be “nongolfers.”

The project is expected to complement the restaurants at Uptown.

“Throughout the recruitment process, it was a pleasure to work with Topgolf officials in first identifying the specific site for the facility and then negotiating the development agreement that finalized Topgolf’s decision to locate in Birmingham,” said Lisa Cooper, director of the Birmingham Mayor’s Office of Economic Development. “This project brings a state-of-the-art training facility for golfers at all skill levels, restaurants and an entertainment venue that will be perfect for everything from corporate outings to private parties. Topgolf fits perfectly in the Uptown District, and we certainly enjoyed working with them as they considered our city.”

Tad Snider of the BJCC echoed Cooper’s assessment.

“The BJCC is excited about the progress being made to bring Topgolf’s popular concept to the Birmingham area,” Snider said. “Topgolf’s recreational offering will provide a great mix of entertainment for Birmingham-area residents at the BJCC’s Uptown District.”

Topgolf has 30 venues serving 12.2 million customers annually in other states. The games use golf balls with microchips to keep score.

The facilities provide lessons and community interaction through  Topgolf U, team leagues, Topgolf Tour, KidZone and various social and corporate events.

“We are thrilled by the prospect of becoming part of the Birmingham community,” Charhon said. “One of Topgolf’s core values is caring, and we want to be a great neighborhood partner. We give back to the community through volunteering, charitable giving, hosting fundraisers for local nonprofits and also by serving as a gathering place for local events and entertainment.”

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