Sports Challenge America opened off Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs, where General Manager Jeff Murphy hopes this prototype will take off nationally.
The venue fuses three concepts at one facility at 28010 Race Track Road. There are indoor bowling lanes and virtual sports simulators for golf and other sports in addition to periodic outdoor sports challenges for football, soccer, baseball, basketball and golf. The facility, built by Naples-based PBS Contractors, also features a shaded sports bar.
“What a great opportunity to be at this point in my career doing something different, but now I get to go into another aspect of hospitality and do sports,” said Murphy, who is also the general manager at the adjacent Bonita Springs Poker Room. “It was a no-brainer for me.”
Although Murphy has a vast background in casinos, working at them in Miami, the Bahamas and Las Vegas, he wanted to avoid words like gambling, wagering and betting regarding Sports Challenge America. He compared it to Dave & Buster’s, except instead of buying a game card, patrons buy the chance to test their skills with cash rewards as prizes.
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, guests can pay $5 to attempt a half-court basketball shot on the outdoor court. They are allowed as many attempts as they want for $5 per attempt until making it for the $250 reward.
Later this summer, they will introduce the golf challenge on a 135-yard hole. The details of that have yet to be announced.
“It’s that opportunity to relive a bit of your past, your youth and your heydays,” Murphy said. “And it’s an opportunity for the average Joe to feel like a sports legend. That’s really what we’re looking to give, that opportunity where you can just have a good time and be part of the community and just have fun because there’s too much stress in the world.”
Although the sports challenges are for adults ages 18 and older, the indoor facilities are open to all ages. A virtual simulator room with room for up to eight people can be booked for $55 per hour.
“We wanted this to become community and spirit and represent everything about the resilience of Bonita Springs,” Murphy said. “So, this has really turned into a complete fun center for everyone.
“We’re hoping it really brings a lot of success and fun to this area and that fun spills over a little bit and more areas get to understand the special activity that we’re bringing to Bonita Springs.”
The sports bar is called Teed Up, which is owned by Matt Faul and Mathew Baum of Fort Myers-based Wolverine Management. Prices are in the $10 range with wings, eggrolls, fries and other sports bar fare.
“It’s great food,” Faul said. “I think this is going to bring out a younger demographic.”
— Gulfshore Business Senior Editor David Dorsey contributed to this report