We’ve heard rumors of TopGolf coming to San Diego for years, and while it’s still not before Of course, there’s reason to be optimistic now that the Port of San Diego and the world-famous golf attraction have reached a deal that would bring the modern driving range to Harbor Island.
“I can imagine this multi-story driving range with a view of the entire bay, all the way to San Diego. It would be a really great venue,” port board chairman Dan Malcolm told NBC 7.
While admitting that developing public land is a long and complicated process, Malcolm revealed that the Port and TopGolf have a “handshake agreement” on exclusive negotiations.
On Tuesday, port staff presented the board with a conceptual redevelopment plan for 48 acres of land along North Harbor Drive, across the water from the eastern peninsula of Harbor Island. For years, the land across from the San Diego airport had been used by rental car companies for parking their fleets. These companies have disappeared, and now another type of practice could be set up.
“We have TopGolf [planned] on a site of about 8.5 acres east of Harbor Island, and we have a few hotels, just over 900 rooms in total, on the west side,” Malcolm said. “The board hasn’t approved it yet, but we’ve kind of moved on. We told our staff that we are interested, we want to go ahead with the lease and see where we go.
The presentation included a sketch of what the Port envisions for the 48-acre land. This wish list includes a TopGolf, two hotels, parking infrastructure and public space on the shore.
Malcolm said TopGolf could bring half a million people to Harbor Island each year and sees the attraction as the centerpiece of the redevelopment.
“Hopefully once we get the concept approved, we can come out, later this year or sometime in 2023, with a RFP (request for proposal) to attract developers to do the hotel part and having TopGolf, at that point, in place,” said Malcolm.
For its part, TopGolf did not provide many details in response to a request for comment on the negotiations with the Port.
Bought by Carlsbad-based Callaway Golf for $200 billion in 2020, according to Forbes, TopGolf told NBC 7 in a statement, “We continue to explore the possibility of bringing Topgolf to San Diego, but we are not We have nothing official to announce at this time. We will share more details as they become available, and please contact us in the future.”
Images from TopGolf locations across the country offer a glimpse of what could happen to San Diego’s Bayfront. The view from the TopGolf Las Vegas hitting bays features the iconic Strip skyline just beyond the net of the shooting range. Between target practice from the top deck in San Diego, you’ll have the choice of watching jumbo jets cascade over Bankers Hill, watching sailboats float in the bay to the south, or admiring the reflection of downtown bouncing off the bay.
“The process is moving forward. I’m excited because in two years, maybe a little more, we’ll actually have this incredible entertainment venue, TopGolf, for people to enjoy, so it’s in the process of becoming a reality,” Malcolm said.
Malcolm said the port is committed to including free public space on Harbor Island in addition to TopGolf and hotels. The harbor provides a park, walking paths, a temporary boat parking dock and a place for kayaks, canoes and non-motorized watercraft to launch into the bay. At this point, there are no plans for retail stores or stand-alone restaurants, according to Malcolm.
The idea for the world-famous driving range to be located in 619 originated when TopGolf responded to a tender from Port in 2015, according to Malcolm.
“They’ve always been there, they’ve always been interested in the site,” he said. “The Port of San Diego took them into consideration – I think it’s fair to say that in 2015 the Port was more interested in moving forward with another developer, but over the years and TopGolf stayed there, we became more and more interested in them taking over part of the site, while developing the rest of Harbor Island.”
“I can’t speak to TopGolf and how they select their venues, but I can tell you they’ve had a long focus on the beach front. Since 2015,” added Malcolm.
Recent delays in the path to a TopGolf-Port marriage can be attributed to – you guessed it – the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a 2021 geologic report that revealed more about a fault line (noted in the sketch above) which parallels North Harbor Drive.