Partners in a sports and entertainment complex planned for a plot of land along the Buffalo River announced details of their project Friday morning. Groundbreaking is anticipated within the next year on what will become a "first-of-its-kind" golf driving range that will be augmented with virtual gaming, eateries and a hotel.
The driving range will feature numerous add-ons including video and shot analysis, including swing speed, ball speed, distance, launch angle and other golf swing factors. Plans also include food service throughout the facility, including at the golf driving bays.
"The design of this thing is what makes it so special," said Bret Blakely, co-founder of project partner OnCore Golf Technology. "For one, it is a focus on a game board driving range, beers, burgers. We're going to add augmented reality gaming opportunities."
Those gaming opportunities include year-round indoor surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding, and bays with simulated baseball, basketball, hockey, and archery competitions.
The complex will also include a hotel featuring 120 to 160 rooms and will house covered parking.
Other partners in the $30 million project include former Carruba Collision CEO Joe Carruba and Doug Swift, founder of RiverWorks, located near the planned complex. Blakely says Kelly Island is the ideal location for this new undertaking, putting it in a neighborhood near RiverWorks and other waterfront entertainment attractions.
"Kelly Island itself, which used to be as Doug Swift called it 'an industrial wasteland,' has been reimagined by him, and now by us with his help as well as truly a world first-of-its-kind of entertainment corridor, set in the industrial surroundings of it," he said.
The center is anticipated to be operational, according to Blakely, about 12 to 16 months after ground is broken. Partners say the complex will create between 400 and 500 new jobs.
Residents of the Old First Ward are being invited to a neighborhood informational meeting "in the near future" according to partners, while the general public is invited to a project presentation and informational session on October 9, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Old First Ward Community Center.