SBJ/April 24-30, 2017/Facilities

Topgolf eyes racetracks to drive business

Topgolf is considering putting its temporary driving range/entertainment concept at racetracks across the country as the company looks to expand on its pop-up venue strategy.

“We have talked to tracks,” said Erik Anderson, co-chairman and chief executive officer of Topgolf Entertainment Group. “There is a big audience and if you are there during a large event, it could be fun and be additional content.”

Anderson said no deals have been finalized with tracks, but the discussions to install the temporary golf venues, called Topgolf Crush, come after the concept debuted in February at Safeco Field in Seattle.

NASCAR’s two major track operators are International Speedway Corp., which owns 12 speedways, and Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns eight speedways. Sources said ISC is among those in talks with Topgolf, though the company declined to comment. SMI is also involved in the talks, said Mike Burch, chief strategy officer of SMI.

Topgolf is expected to add other stadium locations for its pop-up venue tour this year as part of an aggressive growth strategy that also includes opening seven to 10 new permanent Topgolf facilities by the end of 2017. The company now has 31 venues open worldwide, including three locations in the United Kingdom and this year will open venues in Australia and Mexico.

Topgolf sold more than 5,000 tickets during its event at Safeco Field in February.
Photo by: TOPGOLF


A NASCAR industry source added that Topgolf could look to add a permanent location on a track’s property, given how much sprawling real estate track operators like ISC own around their venues. Typical Topgolf permanent facilities are built on 12- to 14-acre suburban sites.

“We love to be in front of large audiences to bring more people to golf,” Anderson said, declining to disclose any specific locations for Topgolf Crush. “We are being thoughtful in building the calendar.”

Topgolf Crush sold more than 5,000 tickets during its three-day event at Safeco Field where Topgolf built 22 stalls in the stands where players could hit toward six targets on the field. The price of general admission tickets ranged between $65 and $85 while VIP tickets ranged between $125 and $145, which also included access to a Topgolf lounge in the ballpark, a stadium tour voucher and free parking.

Computer chips embedded in golf balls allowed players to track shots and keep score based on points accrued by hitting the targets. The pop-up venue also incorporated some of the ballpark’s premium space and concession stands to feature food, music and drinks to re-create a Topgolf permanent facility, which combines a lounge-like atmosphere with golf.

“The ability to transform a baseball stadium and have it feel like golf was our biggest accomplishment,” Anderson said. “I think we were able to create an authentic Topgolf experience in a 72-hour period.”

Now, Dallas-based Topgolf is looking to tweak its pop-up format and add more Topgolf Crush concepts at an undisclosed number of other stadiums and racetracks. Details were not available on how a Crush setup would work at a track, including how it would incorporate a track’s existing structures and amenities.

“We are going to do a lot of them and we are working on additional formats,” Anderson said. “We will be more interactive with scoreboards and we will create more underlying competitive environments.”

The move to attract Topgolf Crush venues could be a boon for NASCAR tracks as they seek to expand their offerings beyond racing. For example, NASCAR Cup Series title sponsor Monster Energy plans to bring Bellator MMA fights to the company’s midway activation space at NASCAR races.

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