Fore! Sports and entertainment themed businesses taking Las Vegas by storm

Home » Fore! Sports and entertainment themed businesses taking Las Vegas by storm

Atomic Golf wants to weave itself into the fabric of Las Vegas.

The unique location of the sports-entertainment venue — characterized by massive TVs broadcasting the latest in sports, sleek and modern lounge spaces and LED screens — revitalizes the area north of the Strat, with one foot in the Las Vegas Strip and one foot in downtown, said Derek Austin, director of facilities at Atomic Golf.

“The land has been huge, just to tie ourselves in with the Arts District and the city of Las Vegas,” Austin said. “You’ll see a lot of the murals that tie that in. You have our tap room on the third floor that caters to all Las Vegas-brewed beers right here on Main Street, or Brewery Row.”

Since its recent grand opening last month, Atomic Golf has already been a “huge hit,” Austin said. The 99,000-square-foot-plus venue offers four floors of gaming, with more than 100 golf bays, a putting district with a projection map base and golf ball cannons.

People shouldn’t come to space just expecting to “hit golf balls,” Austin said.

“Obviously we’re tailored toward golf entertainment,” he said. “But if you’re not looking for purely just golf entertainment, we’ve got these three, four or five different spaces that really hone in on, ‘Okay, how can we make entertainment in Vegas fun without just being golfing?’”

Atomic Golf is the latest in an ongoing trend of sports-entertainment complexes making Las Vegas their home. And more are on their way.

Swingers, “the crazy golf club,” is slated to open a flagship location at Mandalay Bay in the fall, a project that CEO and co-founder Matt Grech-Smith said is “very much on track.” Las Vegas is a great destination for the decade-old brand’s biggest location, he said, because it’s the “absolute pinnacle” of sports and entertainment.

The 40,000-square-foot facility will have five courses, a wide array of food and beverage offerings and ascribe to an “English country house,” theme, Grech-Smith said, which takes the existing brand up a notch.

“It’s got this kind of 1920s, Gatsby-esque theme,” he said. “There’s farms, trees — you feel like you’re sitting in an English country garden. So it’s going to feel great in Las Vegas, a total change of scene from some of the other environments, and a great place just to go and do some kind of activity that’s not gaming or straightforward eating and drinking.”

It’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t like minigolf, Grech-Smith said, because it’s accessible, immersive and ticks “a lot of boxes” in terms of what people want out of an entertainment experience.

“We always say that, when there’s a bit of competition, that’s when people have the most memorable experiences,” he said.

The immersive, experiential and restaurant format is becoming more and more popular, said Paul Frederick, founder of Eureka Restaurant Group, the company behind the development of Electric Pickle, a sports and entertainment venue slated to open in about a year at The Bend on Sunset Road and Durango Drive.

A venue like Electric Pickle meets a demand that followed the COVID-19 pandemic for more outdoor entertainment options, Frederick said, as well as a need for more pickleball courts, a sport that continues to spike in popularity.

“So we’ve addressed that, and we’ve doctored it up with really good food and music and just the overall entertainment aspect,” he said. “And so, we know, (pickleball is) hot, we know that people need more courts. We know people like to go to Top Golf and have these experiential experiences … We’re just putting all the pieces together.”

PopStroke, a minigolf course experience, will debut April 22 at Town Square on Las Vegas Boulevard. The venue will have a pair of 18-hole courses, open-air dining experience, beer garden, playground for children and space for private parties.

“As the dynamic hub of global entertainment, Las Vegas draws visitors from every corner of the world, embodying diversity and excitement like no other place on Earth,” PopStroke Founder and CEO Greg Bartoli said in a statement.

The collision of sports and entertainment in Las Vegas doesn’t come as a total surprise, considering the entertainment hub has recently earned the moniker “Sports Capital of the World,” for its array of champion sports teams, its first-ever Super Bowl, a Formula One race and more.

Those events helped fuel a visitation increase to Las Vegas by 5.2% to 40.8 million in 2023, surpassing 40 million for the first time since 2019.

When people are in town, they want to play — everything from gaming, to shows, food, shopping, and now, sports-entertainment experiences.

Top Golf got the ball rolling in 2016 when it opened next to MGM Grand on Harmon Avenue. The venue allows participants to drive a golf ball from a tee box into a golf range placed in the middle of the resort corridor. The balls are embedded with microchip technology to track exactly where they fall.

Officials have previously said more than half of the clientele at Top Golf aren’t regular golfers.

The sports-entertainment experience is one that everybody is trying to master, Austin said. At Atomic Golf, that means offering people a variety of ways to watch a game, play golf, drink hand-crafted cocktails and more.

And, albeit he does see the new brand taking off and expanding into other markets, right now it’s all about Las Vegas.

“We chose Las Vegas for a reason,” Austin said. “We want people to remember why Las Vegas was No. 1.”

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