Magic City Casino and PBS Contractors broke ground Tuesday on the first-of-its-kind interactive, sports wagering complex near the former Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Bonita Springs.
The indoor-outdoor Sports Challenge America is planned on about 5 acres between the Bonita Springs Poker Room and the former dog track. The local venture will be owned and operated by Miami-based Magic City Casino, which owns the nearly 100 acres on the southeast corner of Bonita Beach Road and Old 41 Road that includes the new poker room and the old dog track property.
“There’s no other facility like this in the United States. There’s no other facility like this, period. This is the first of its kind,” said David Minton, project manager for Naples-based PBS Contractors.
The 10,400-square-foot building will include six bowling lanes and five sports simulators for virtual sports such as golf and tennis. The exterior includes a par-3 golf hole where participants wagering on themselves can make a hole-in-one to win a certain amount of money, Minton said. “So, everything here is betting on yourself, wagering on your own talent,” he said.
In addition to the hole-in-one challenge, participants can wager on themselves on a variety of other sporting activities, said Mario Valle, senior relationship manager for PBS Contractors.
“There’ll be a basketball court, where there will be different shooting activities. There’ll be a mini baseball facility where you can throw from the pitcher’s mound, home plate or throw from behind home plate to second base to get an experience of what it’s like to be in a Major League-type of baseball facility,” Valle said. “And, then there’ll be a half, shortened football facility where you can kick field goals or throw passes into different activities. So, there’ll be different activities where you can wager on yourself to win prizes based on an element or two that you’re going to have to pay for.”
The Sports Challenge America concept is the brainchild of Scott Savin, chief operating officer of Magic City Casino. An opportunity exists for this concept to grow, Valle said. “The company thinks that it’s going to be able to take off and be placed around the country,” he said. “So, they have the intellectual property rights on the type of approach that’s being placed here. So, they’re going to see how this goes and possibly take it further.”
Sports Challenge America’s kitchen and bar will be able to seat 50 people outdoors. Food will be ordered from the menu of The Brass Tap, the restaurant and bar that operates out of the adjacent poker room.
The future sports complex will be able to be accessed from Race Track Road or Old 41 Road as well as through the parking lot of the poker room. “It is an interconnected property,” Minton said.
The project faces eight or nine months of construction. “We will be open in January or February of next year,” Minton said.
Other local companies involved in building the project include JMDG Architecture, Planning + Interiors and Holes Montes engineering firm, both of Naples.
The Havenick family behind Magic City Casino had been seeking tourism-related projects that will benefit the community, especially children and young families. The Miami family wanted to create an entertainment mecca to complement their Bonita Springs Poker Room, which opened in October 2020 at the corner of Bonita Beach Road and Race Track Road.
“We want to plan right. For us, the core business obviously is the poker room. We want to make sure what we do is complementary to that,” Isadore “Izzy” Havenick, partner and vice president of Magic City Casino, said in an interview last year with Gulfshore Business.
Adrenalin World, a large indoor-outdoor adventure park, originally was proposed for that site by former professional tennis players David Lloyd and Johan Kriek but an agreement could not be reached, so that project will not be happening here. Directly south of Sports Challenge America, is the parking lot and footprint of the former greyhound track, which operated there for nearly five decades before it was permanently closed in May 2020 and demolished last year.
The next phase for the remaining acreage on that corner has not been determined.