It looms unmistakably above the freeway near Westroads Mall — the Topgolf behemoth framed by a couple of dozen towering poles that string the driving range's massive nets.

Soon, the 10-acre complex will be lighted, a beacon to people out to play this mix between golf, bowling, eating and imbibing that has spread to nearly 60 sites, mostly in the U.S. but also globally.

Come late March, Omahans should be swinging away from their own temperature-controlled Topgolf bay while nibbling on chicken wings. What's more, other developers are hoping to capitalize by building nearby.



Most recently, a famous Nebraska name jumped into the action, scooping up an 8-acre tract just a few short strokes away from the techy venue that aims to make golf more fun and engaging to a broader audience.

Joe Ricketts — founder of TD Ameritrade and father to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts — bought the H&H Automotive property on North 102nd Street west of Westroads Mall and north of California Street. That's along the same corridor as Topgolf.

Public records show Hugo Westroads Development paid $8.7 million for the property. (Joe Ricketts' holding company is Hugo Enterprises.)

Ricketts, through a spokesperson, declined to reveal his plans, but did confirm the purchase.

Originally, Ricketts sought only a portion of the H&H site, but his agent made the broader offer just before the remainder was to go to another buyer, said H&H co-owner Steve Hinchcliff. The H&H structures still remain there, but the dealership operations are to switch over this week to newly built facilities farther west.

The question of what Ricketts — also the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs — will do with his property adds intrigue to the stretch that once bustled with car dealerships and now is shifting to a family entertainment zone.

Drew Snyder of Westroads Investors, which developed the 14acre site that includes Topgolf at 908 N. 102nd St., said he and other area property owners are excited Ricketts bought into their neighborhood.

"We're hopeful he builds a substantial project that contributes to the creation of a nice entertainment district for the city and the Westroads area," Snyder said.

The stretch of 102nd Street opened for redevelopment when owners of the seven car dealerships announced they were building new homes farther west.

H&H's multimillion-dollar replacement facilities for BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover and Mini franchises are at the Heartwood Preserve campus near 144th Street and West Dodge Road. Baxter Auto Group earlier moved into its three new dealerships at West Dodge Pointe campus near 168th and West Dodge.

In other developments: Snyder's company, Westroads Investors, soon will build an 8,000-square-foot building directly south of Topgolf. A Chipotle restaurant and drive-through is to occupy over a quarter of that space, and the rest is available for lease.

Another 2.5 acres to the south, which his group controls, also is up for grabs, Snyder said.

South of that is the Ricketts property.

Across 102nd Street, at the corner between Topgolf and Westroads, will be a station for Omaha's new rapid bus transit system, said Westroads Mall Manager Jim Sadler.

Sadler says store tenants are thrilled for the future, and plan to partner with Topgolf on package deals and other projects. He said Topgolf already has leased space at the mall for employee training.

"We see the development as nothing but a positive for us and Omaha," Sadler said.

As for Topgolf, an agent told the Omaha City Council this past Tuesday to expect a late March opening.

The Dallas-based organization declined to give a price tag for its Omaha project. But in Planning Department documents, the developer estimated total cost of the 14-acre redevelopment that features the 10-acre Topgolf at more than $50 million — that's everything from land acquisition to site work and construction. The Topgolf facility itself came in at about $23 million.

Topgolf gave TheWorld-Herald a statement outlining its ramp-up.

Rising two stories, the main 48,295-square-foot structure will contain 72 bays (cooled or heated, depending on the season) from where players hit into the net-wrapped outdoor field that stretches 240 yards long.

Each hitting bay holds up to six players at a time and includes comfy seating and TV screens to monitor sporting events and track Topgolf scoring. Groups can order food and beverages while playing.

Guests also have access to a full-service restaurant, multiple bars, open-air terraces and a family-entertainment zone with games. And space is available for corporate events and parties.

Key to the game are high-tech balls (embedded with radio frequency identification) that golf club-swinging players hit into the outfield dotted with 11 targets illuminated with LED lights.

The microchips in the balls track each player's shot in real time, awarding points for accuracy or luck. Topgolf describes the atmosphere as both competitive and social. Ten games are available to appeal to varying skill levels.

Omaha's complex will have 357 parking spaces. It joins a global network that reportedly entertains 17 million guests a year.

A fun fact: Over 24 million pounds of stone was used for local construction activity, said Topgolf spokeswoman Caroline Jerome.

Snyder said buzz about the project, which broke ground in June, has intensified as its steel poles rose around the outfield — they vary in height from 90 feet near the building to 155 feet farther away.

"It sits on a high spot to begin with," he said. "Overall, we're just extremely excited."

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