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Joe Tamborello and Stephen J. Beard, Indianapolis Star
A $30 million golf and entertainment venue is under construction about a mile southwest of Lucas Oil Stadium, creating what developers hope will be a new entertainment district near downtown Indianapolis.
Back 9 Golf & Entertainment, a 58,500-square-foot venue with 75 climate-controlled golf bays and a 3-story driving range, will open in June at 1415 W. Drover St. along on the banks of the White River.
Developers are branding the venue — which they say can be used for wedding parties, business meetings or just fun gathers — as a fourth stadium for downtown.
“When we get done, you know with the Biltwell Event Center, and the zoo and the (Elanco Animal Health), this is all gonna be one big entertainment district here that connects that all together,” said Stephen Alexander, one of the owners of Back 9 Golf & Entertainment.
When it was announced in 2020, the venue was initially called Flying Tee. Now doing business under the name Back 9 Golf & Entertainment, it’s positioning itself as a competitor to TopGolf, a technology-enabled golf, party and entertainment venue with a full-service bar and restaurant. TopGolf’s only Indianapolis-area location is in Fishers.
Golf and entertainment
Construction started on Back 9 in August. The golf and entertainment facility will rise three floors with 25 bays on each floor. The grand opening will take place in mid June.
MWA MasterBuilders LLC, Indy Golf Party LLC and Prince Alexander Architecture LLC are working together to develop the venue along the riverfront.
When it is complete, Back 9 Golf & Entertainment will have a beer garden, outdoor music pavilion and accompanying balconies that collectively fit up to 550 people, party rooms and VIP suites, a full-service kitchen, large TV screens for showing games, outdoor heaters for the winter, a bar with 12 beers on tap, and a coffee bar. Brownsburg-based Best Friends Coffee & Spirits will occupy a spot on the first floor.
“We are providing an element of actual entertainment in the facility as well, and then we’re also providing things to do for kids, families — the parents who have kids that they want to bring — we have things to actually do beyond just golfing,” said Danny Hayes, a member of the Back 9 development team.
Back 9 Golf & Entertainment, Alexander said, uses a radar ball tracking system that can monitor up to 6,000 balls at any given time. The venue’s radar technology will be able to track the balls even in foggy, snowy or raining weather conditions.
“If you watch PGA golfing on TV, you’ll have a ball trajectory mapped out on the screen. That’s the technology that we will have so when you hit the ball, your trajectory or ball is shown on a screen in front of you,” he said. “You can overlay that trajectory image onto a lot of different games so that’s much more advanced than the other golfing venue.”
Golfers also will be able to virtually play on some of the world’s more recognizable courses, he said. In addition to better and more advanced technology, Back 9 is also promising large golf bays and standing height tables in booths. This is supposed be more user-friendly and ergonomic for players, Alexander said.
Pricing is still being finalized.
Alexander is the chief executive officer for Prince Alexander Architecture on South Meridian Street, and has his eye on redeveloping the southwest quadrant of downtown, including Stadium Village and the Old Southside.
Indianapolis-based MWA Masterbuilders, a development company Alexander is part of, has developed a master plan for the area. Several projects are already completed such as the Tru by Hilton Downtown Indianapolis near Lucas Oil Stadium and Cambria Hotel.
It’s also assembled land for a multimillion apartment complex.
“It’s one bite at a time, so this is another bite,” Alexander said, adding that they would like to promote other development as a way to lift the entire area.
Alexander added the ownership team, which hopes to connect the area to downtown, had been scouting opportunities to bring more entertainment to the area.
“We’re working on kind of branding this side of the river as the Stockyards District and promoting other tenants to come here,” Alexander said.
The site was originally a meatpacking factory from the Civil War, he said. They tore down six buildings.
Alexander said he had assumed, before finding the location, there was no spot big enough downtown for such a venue.
“And when we stumbled into this piece of land, we drew a plan on it and saw the sketches and thought, man, this could really work. We can really start bringing in a lot of cool events.”