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When Residents Attack: Thornton Topgolf Going Far North

Last Updated on August 21, 2018 by Michael Brockbank

In Colorado, we only have one Topgolf facility. It’s located in Centennial and is a 30-minute drive from my house on a good day. Imagine my excitement when I heard about a possible Thornton Topgolf at 136th and I-25. But alas, it’s not to be.

Instead, Topgolf is putting its second establishment closer to 160th and I-25. Which is still 15 minutes closer to me. But why is the golf entertainment center moving so far north?

Because residents in the area of 136th and I-25 sued to prevent the building from going up.[template id=”145″]

Thornton Offers Tax Incentives

As with many practices of cities engaging large corporations, Thornton offered Topgolf a $3.75 million incentive package to build a facility within its borders. Unfortunately, this is part of the outraged shared by some of those living in Thornton.

The incentive is to rebate some of the property and sales tax collected by the Thornton Topgolf facility over the next 10 years. Afterward, it would be taxation as normal.

However, incentives like this often fuel resentment and confusion. Not everyone understands how these kinds of incentives actually work to boost a city.

How these Incentives Work

In order to drive larger corporations to cities, many will offer tax-based incentives. In this instance, it’s the reduction in overall costs for property and sales tax.

What people are failing to consider is how this actually affects the city of Thornton.

Let me break down a few key points:

A) Promoting Jobs in the Area
Large companies usually bring in a lot of jobs for the local economy. In this case, Thornton Topgolf is set to hire around 500 people. The greater number of jobs can influence local spending as fewer people are unemployed.

B) Promoting Tourism
Tourists don’t necessarily have to come from other states or countries. In reality, you can consider people from the next town over as tourists. Having a facility such as Topgolf has great potential to bring in a large number of consumers.

These people are likely to buy gas, food or spend money at other facilities while traveling through Thornton.

C) Taxes Are Still Generated
Would you rather have an empty lot that doesn’t generate any income or one that will generate a bit of money now and much more later? The incentives do not negate all taxable income from Topgolf. It’s a percentage, which is mostly based on income.

However you slice it, the facility with the tax rebates is still generating more money for the city than an empty lot.

And because the alternative is a landmass with no purpose, the burden on taxpayers is really not much more than there currently is.

Residents Speak Out

The main factor behind why Thornton Topgolf had to change its location is the people. Residents were openly concerned with what a facility such as this would do to the local wildlife environment and residential comfort.

Really…they complained the bright lights and such would be detrimental to the wildlife. For those who do not live in Colorado, this would mean displacing geese, ground hogs and perhaps a few ducks to a neighboring city.

It’s not like Thornton is up in the mountains surrounded by deer, bobcats, bears or goats. In fact, many would argue the huge number of ground hogs are more of an eyesore than a huge building.[template id=”505″]

Worries of an Eyesore

One of the more profound arguments is how Thornton Topgolf would be an eyesore. The net surrounding the driving range reaches as tall as 170 feet while a three-story building stands at its opening.

The entire bulk of the facility is around 65,000 square feet.

While I have to agree that Topgolf is huge, I wouldn’t call it an eyesore. If anyone has ever been to this facility, they would see it’s a clean and modern style layout with an attractive appearance.

An eyesore would be the strip of land between I-270 and I-76 along Highway 85 that is the town of Commerce City. An eyesore would be Casa Bonita, which is where I experienced some of the worst dining experiences of my life.

Fewer People Playing Golf?

Some residence point out how golf has been in decline for quite some time. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of active golfers has dropped by about two million people.

However, facilities such as Topgolf generate a great deal of interest among many. Golfers, whether seasonal or who have never picked up a club before, are going to places like Topgolf because of what it offers.

Unlike a traditional round of golf, which is often time-consuming, players can engage the platform as they would at a bowling alley.

In fact, I have never seen more than a handful of the 102 bays at facility empty any time I’ve visited.

What makes the system more ideal than simply hitting the course is the interactive digital element. In a sense, it taps that technological addiction many people have…including millennials.

One of the driving factors behind why I love golf is to get away from technology and enjoy the outdoors.

And then I bring my smartphone because it has a ball tracking and scoring app. But it’s still better than sitting at my desk for hours on end.

Will Distance Be a Hindrance?

The new location of Thornton Topgolf isn’t in the most ideal position, but it’s still close to the populace. A facility capable of handling 500 employees and more than 600 concurrent guests wants to be in a semi-dense population.

Which is why you will NEVER see a Topgolf in Iliff, Colorado…with a population of 250.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons why I don’t visit more often is because it’s so far from me in Centennial.

And the location of where Thornton Topgolf is going to be located is actually popularized by a few larger companies as well. For instance, there is a Costco Wholesale, two shopping centers, Cabela’s and a spa in the area.

It seems this area is where companies go when residents of Thornton have a tizzy fit about bringing business in.

For myself, it’s not as close as I’d like, but it’s closer than Centennial. Perhaps I can get my brother off his butt and join me in league play as Thornton will be vastly closer to him.

Shut Up and Take My Money!

I’ve been a fan of Topgolf since I first played it last year. In reality, you don’t pay much more than you would at any other entertainment facility. At $25 for a bay of six people first thing in the morning, it’s actually quite cheap.

Any way you slice it, I am ready to hand over a lot of my extra cash as soon as Thornton Topgolf opens.

I wonder how much it would cost to Uber back and forth throughout the week…[template id=”543″]

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop, to name a few.