Mobile City Council Unanimously Approves Topgolf Incentives

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) — City Council on Tuesday provided the final piece of a financial package that will bring Topgolf to Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

The unanimous vote authorizes an incentive package of $1.25 million, matching the equal amount approved last week by the Mobile County Commission.

The city council on Tuesday provided the final piece of a financial package that will bring Topgolf to Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

The unanimous vote authorizes an incentive package of $1.25 million, matching the equal amount approved last week by the Mobile County Commission. The total taxpayer commitment of $2.5 million falls somewhere between the extremes. Some cities and counties offered incentives worth millions of dollars, while others got the popular entertainment venue without public money.

Council members described their votes as a tool for economic development and an effort to fill an entertainment deficit in the city. District 2 Councilman William Carroll suggested the mobile chamber move its annual golf tournament to the site when it opens.

“I can’t wait for the sheer entertainment value Topgolf is going to bring to this council,” he said.

The Texas-based company plans to construct a two-story building at the site of the former Hollywood Stadium 18 moving theater in McGowin Park, off Interstate 65. It will have 60 driving bays where patrons will participate in plays involving targets in the outfield. The facility will also have mini-golf and an outdoor patio, as well as a full-service restaurant and bar.

Topgolf did not send a representative to the meeting and the company did not respond to inquiries from FOX10 News. But District 7 Councilwoman Gina Gregory read a company statement breaking down its commitment to create 150 full-time and part-time jobs. She said 30 of those jobs would be full-time positions paying average annual salaries of more than $50,000.

The rest, she said, would be full-time and part-time jobs paying “up to” $27 an hour. Restaurant servers who work more than 28.5 hours per week will be eligible for allowances.

“I think it’s a good investment for the city,” she said. “I certainly understand where the concerns are coming from.” by the Mobile County Commission. The total taxpayer commitment of $2.5 million falls somewhere between the extremes. Some cities and counties offered incentives worth millions of dollars, while others got the popular entertainment venue without public money.

Council members described their votes as a tool for economic development and an effort to fill an entertainment deficit in the city. District 2 Councilman William Carroll suggested the mobile chamber move its annual golf tournament to the site when it opens.

“I can’t wait for the sheer entertainment value Topgolf is going to bring to this board,” he said.

The Texas-based company plans to construct a two-story building at the site of the former Hollywood Stadium 18 moving theater in McGowin Park, off Interstate 65. It will have 60 driving bays where patrons will participate in plays involving targets in the outfield. The facility will also have mini-golf and an outdoor patio, as well as a full-service restaurant and bar.

Topgolf did not send a representative to the meeting and the company did not respond to inquiries from FOX10 News. Project developer John Whitson, director of RealtyLink, left the meeting without comment.

District 7 Councilwoman Gina Gregory read a statement from the company breaking down its commitment to create 150 full-time and part-time jobs. She said 30 of those jobs would be full-time positions paying annual salaries of $50,000 or more.

The rest, she said, would be full-time and part-time jobs paying “up to” $27 an hour. Restaurant servers who work more than 28.5 hours per week will be eligible for allowances.

“I think it’s a good investment for the city,” she said. “I certainly understand where the concerns are coming from.”

Although the vote was unanimous, some council members said they shared some of the reluctance to spend taxpayers’ money on a retail business. But they said Topgolf is a unique opportunity.

District 4 Councilman Ben Reynolds cites House projections that the development will generate $750,000 in sales tax revenue.

“That line is hard to define, I think,” he said after the meeting. “I struggled with the question and tried to find a way to draw a hard line. But in this case it was, do we like it or not? I mean, either we end up behind so many of cities across this country that are advocating for Topgolf to be here, or we step in and say, “Hey, we want you here.”

District 5 councilman Joel Daves said: “I had this question myself at first. I am generally opposed to the use of incentives for retail operations.

Daves told reporters he didn’t like the idea of ​​enticing outside companies to come to Mobile to compete with established companies.

“But Topgolf is different,” he said. “So yes, it’s retail, but it’s different in the sense that it’s a new concept for Mobile, and so when it does, it won’t be in direct competition with businesses.”

During the meeting, Board Chairman CJ Small called Topgolf a “game changer” for the region.

“We still see money going out of our state, going to Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia all the time, you know, out of our area going to casinos and the lottery,” he said. . “But now we have something that will entice those people to come and see our area for a family atmosphere. And I can’t wait for them to get here.

District 6 Councilman William Carroll said people were impressed when they heard Mobile was getting a Topgolf.

“They say, ‘Wow,'” he said. “You know, it’s awesome that we can bring an agency like Topgolf to the city.”

Updated at 1:14 p.m. with additional comments.

Jones predicted that the city would make a profit on its investment over the next four or five years, no matter what happened next. But he said the benefits extend beyond dollars and cents.

“We also have a gap in this city to provide recreation like this for young families, for children who will use it,” he said. “It’s not a golf place. Golfers use it. But probably 80% of the people who will go to this place have never touched a golf club, have never been on a golf course.

Demolition of the movie theater could begin in October, with construction beginning in December. Topgolf hopes to open in the last three months of next year.

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