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Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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Top Golf plans Brandon complex

TAMPA - The massive Bass Pro Shops development in Brandon has attracted its first satellite business to the wider complex: An enormous TopGolf driving range, sports bar and restaurant facility that's somewhat larger than the average Publix store.
TopGolf officials are now in final negotiations with the local developer on a facility that will have 102 semi-climate-controlled tees arranged in three stories, where golfers smack computer-chip impregnated balls at sensor-embedded targets up to 200 yards away.
Each luxury bay will have misters in the summer, heaters in the winter, patio-like furniture for relaxing and competing with friends, twin HDTVs to watch other sports, and teams of waiters circulating with beer, wine, liquor and food from the gourmet kitchens.
For those not playing golf, there are two full-sized bars and restaurants, live bands each night and a rooftop terrace with fire pits and private cabanas for parties.
For parents looking to occupy the kids, there's an indoor playground with life-sized Jenga puzzles, Xbox games, shuffleboard courts, foosball tables, arcade games and programmed camps of activities.
For comparison's sake, the size of a TopGolf location makes it the largest sports bar in both Houston and Austin, Texas.
“Aside from the fact that Florida is a great golfing state, Brandon is young, vibrant and growing,” said TopGolf spokeswoman Adrienne Browne. “Florida and Brandon are where we want to be.”
In the full TopGolf experience, Browne said, golfers rent a bay for $20 an hour, and can play against as many as five of their friends. Each person shoots at a particular target out in the range, with some 25 yards away, and others just over 200 yards away. Each customized Top Flight ball has an RFID chip inside that's tagged to each player. Similar in some ways to bowling, a system automatically keeps score of how close each player comes to a particular target: The closer the hit, the higher their score.
Unlike typical driving ranges that see their peak business during the day, a Top Golf is more of a party atmosphere, and is busiest in the evening and on weekend nights. The typical location stays open until midnight, with others open until 2 a.m.
If all goes according to plan, Browne said they could start construction this fall, and potentially open by next summer.
The TopGolf site is immediately to the south of the planned Bass Pro store at the intersection of the Selmon Expressway and Interstate 75.
This all comes after much controversy about Bass Pro, which had sought millions of dollars in various forms of incentives in exchange for building one of its signature retail sites. Eventually, county commissioners approved a $6.25 million subsidy for road improvements near and through the development, partly justifying the expense as an investment in economic development.
Several surrounding merchants, including some who run driving ranges and golf courses, protested the arrangement as an unfair handout to a potential competitor.
Speaking to the economic development issue, Browne said TopGolf has nine locations, and each typically employs 350 to 400 people and generates an economic impact of $264 million over a 10-year period.
As of now, TopGolf hasn't negotiated any economic incentive deals for the site in Tampa, Browne said.
The TopGolf company began in London, but is now based in Dallas, and has nine locations, with one more set to open this year. The privately held company is still scouting for more locations in Florida.


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