Venue Option without Incentives a Better Choice?
Last week the City Council overrode Mayor Keller’s veto on Topgolf’s $2.6 million dollar incentive sparking debates about the Council’s decision to support a prolific out-of-state corporation rather than investing in local businesses. Meanwhile, Bigshots Golf’s Albuquerque Developer and investors, who did not pursue any financial incentives, is now questioning if Albuquerque can support two golf entertainment venues.
Should the City have invested in local interests and encouraged BigShots Golf or is Topgolf’s complex truly a better choice? We look forward to your thoughts.
Source: Ortiz, Christopher. “Future of BigShots in Albuquerque in question, KOB reports”. Albuquerque Business First. 16 August. 2018
Healthy Competition or Unfair Advantage?
Yesterday, the City Council voted 7-2 to override Mayor Keller’s veto on Topgolf’s $2.6 million dollar economic development package. Only six votes were required to pass the override.
Many residents spoke at Monday’s Council meeting some supporting and some protesting the multi-million dollar subsidy to a prolific out-of-state corporation rather than prioritizing local business owners. While Mayor Keller is focusing on investing in local economic growth and creating higher paying jobs, Council President Ken Sanchez believes that Topgolf would be a multi-generational attraction creating both an immediate boon to the local economy and healthy competition for our homegrown businesses such as Cliff’s Amusement Park and Cool Springz Trampoline Park. Some would argue that it will be difficult for our local businesses to compete with a $39 million dollar entertainment venue without receiving similar financial assistance.
What are your thoughts? We look forward to reading your comments below.
BigShots Golf weighs in as Topgolf Incentives spark a city-wide tee off
BigShots’ news release claims its 71,000 sqft year-round facility along the I-25 corridor will cost between $17 million and $20 million bringing 350-450 jobs. The estimated cost of the Topgolf project is $38.8 million. According to city estimates, Topgolf will generate $15 million in annual sales and $5 million in gross receipts taxes over 20 years after the incentives as well as $4.6 million in property taxes for both the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. Tanner Micheli, director of real estate development for Topgolf, told the council “[i]n smaller markets, it’s not uncommon for Topgolf to need an incentive…Incentives aren’t something we go for in every municipality — it’s something that’s only when it’s absolutely needed in order to get the job done.”
In their news release, BigShots emphasized that it has not asked for nor are they pursuing any city incentives. It cited a report from Good Jobs First titled “Tax Breaks and Inequality: Enriching Billionaires and Low-Road Employers in the Name of Economic Development.” The text BigShots cited made the argument that successful, growing companies like Topgolf, an indoor/outdoor golf entertainment center, do not need additional incentives to be profitable and successful.
The city’s Finance and Government Operations Committee approved a $2.6 million incentive package for Topgolf including a local LEDA grant for $250,000 and a $1.5 million local LEDA gross receipt tax increment. LEDA is a financial incentive used by the state and local governments as a closing fund to recruit new businesses and grow existing businesses in New Mexico. However, the incentive package championed by City Councilor Ken Sanchez did not include clawback measures for job creation or require Topgolf to remain in operation for at least 10 years drawing rebuke from city Economic Development Director Synthia Jaramillo.
Jaramillo stated that while investment into our city and job creation is encouraged “…this ordinance and project will set a bad precedent and sends the message that Topgolf doesn’t have to play by the same rules that other companies that have received LEDA funding had to.” Jaramillo raised additional concerns stating “[i]t’s important to follow the normal rules for this project, which requires an economic assessment, to ensure taxpayer fund are used wisely…[t]his legislation circumvents this process and waives these safeguards for this project, and this project alone.”
As Topgolf didn’t work directly with Jaramillo’s department, she and her team will conduct a financial impact analysis with the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research as required by state law.
Public comment from Monday’s council meeting was overwhelmingly in favor of the city doing whatever it takes to bring Topgolf to Albuquerque. One by one, new arguments in favor of the sports entertainment venue were brought up such as an immediate boon to the local economy, work opportunities for younger adults, another option for large company meetings, and a much needed entertainment venue for the city. While the majority of the public comment period was spent discussing the possibilities Topgolf could bring, a city official reminded the council of a potential dangerous precedent of giving city funds to a successful out-of-state business versus investing local.
Once operational, Topgolf is projected to have an annual payroll of $4.5 million and attract 450,000 visitors annually. Sarita Nair, Albuquerque’s chief administrative officer, brought up similar concerns at the City Council’s meeting Monday when the discussion of Topgolf came up.”When we have so many businesses out there struggling, especially around the ART corridor, the idea of financing this project to this extent just is not in keeping with our values,” she said of Topgolf. “If it’s going to be as successful as it sounds like it will be, they probably don’t need $3 million from the city.”
The City Council will meet again June 18 to make its final ruling on the $2.6 million incentive package Topgolf says it needs to thrive in Albuquerque’s economy.
- Ortiz, Christopher. “City Council committee initially approves $2.6 million in incentives for Topgolf”. Albuquerque Business First. 15 May. 2018.
- Davis, Ron. “City councilor: Albuquerque ‘lucky’ for Topgolf”. Albuquerque Business First. 16 May.2018.
- Davis, Ron. “Topgolf rep, others speak out about potential city incentives”. Albuquerque Business First. 5 June.2018.
- Davis, Ron. “What BigShots Golf had to say about Topgolf $2.6M incentive proposal”. Albuquerque Business First. 6 June.2018.
Which would you prefer – Topgolf or BigShots Golf?
Topgolf and BigShots Golf have announced plans to bring their names (and games) to Albuquerque boosting our golf entertainment options and the local economy.
While the popularity of traditional golf has been declining for the last decade, the hybridization of sport and technology in a climate-controlled entertainment venue may be a winning combination for Albuquerque.
Topgolf’s three-story venue on 14.4 acres will be located at the southwest corner of Montano and I-25, breathing life back into the long-vacant Beach water park site. Pending City approvals, TopGolf is expecting to be open for business in spring 2019 creating an estimated 325 jobs. The anticipated amenities will include full service restaurant and bars, rooftop terrace with fire pit, free Wi-Fi, private event spaces and meeting rooms, and hundreds of HDTVs.
BigShots Golf’s proposed 71,000 square foot building on 20 acres will be east of our beloved Balloon Fiesta Park along the North I-25 corridor. The $17-$20 million dollar project is expected to generate about 350 – 400 jobs. Each Tee Box can seat up to 6 people and is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, music, and 2 TVs (one for the game and one for the guests’ preferred channel). Food and drinks can be ordered from the Tee Box and enjoyed while you play.
Topgolf’s central location and 72 hitting bays would make lunch breaks at Q Realty a lot more fun!
Which do you prefer – TopGolf or BigShots?
- Perea, Shelby. “National Chains Drive for ABQ’s Entertainment Dollar”. Albuquerque Business First. 2-8 Feb. 2018. 4-6. Print.
- Washington, Francesca. “TopGolf targets Albuquerque for first New Mexico location”. KRQE News 13. 10 Jan. 2018: KRQE News 13. Web. 5 Feb. 2018.
- Sinovic, Steve. “BigShots Golf proposed near Balloon Fiesta Park“. Albuquerque Journal. 20 Dec. 2017: Albuquerque Journal. Web. 5 Feb. 2018.
- Economist.com. “Why Golf is in Decline in America”. The Economist. 3 Apr. 2015: Economist.com. Web. 5 Feb. 2018.
- Topgolf International, Inc. “Topgolf Albuquerque“. Topgolf Albuquerque. 2018: Topgolf.com. Web. 6 Feb. 2018.
- BigShotsGolf.com. Web. 6 Feb. 2018.
Q Realty® is an Albuquerque real estate company and is locally owned and operated. Q Realty® or “The Q” was founded on the principals of outstanding customer service and we have earned the reputation of being the most “customer-centric,” honest, ethical and professional real estate company in Albuquerque. We treat our customers how we like to be treated.