MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — City Council members held a preliminary meeting Tuesday morning, and the topic of TopGolf was brought up.
Mobile’s Economic Development Counsel Britton Bonner explained to council members how city and county funding will be used as an incentive to bring TopGolf to Mobile. Councilman William Carroll asked Bonner why TopGolf is asking for the same amount from the city. According to Bonner, the request for the same amount is going towards the construction of the city.
“The requirements for the $1.25 [million] coming from the city are the same requirements coming from the county,” said Bonner. “And those are going in once they get their final funding in place for the project. The city funds will go in after that to be used in the construction and development process of the facility.”
Essentially, TopGolf would receive $1.25 million each from the city and county. The cash incentive would be made in the hopes of enticing TopGolf to bring their business to Mobile. TopGolf representative Todd Waldo also attended the county meeting to speak directly to council members.
Waldo discussed how TopGolf would benefit the community, stating that the venue would bring jobs and entertainment value to the area. When asked about the wage for employees, Waldo said stated there would be full-time and part-time positions.
Hourly workers to be hired at TopGolf, wages not listed
Workers would be paid hourly and at competitive wages, but some community members voiced their concerns that the exact hourly wage was not disclosed.
“It doesn’t make sense to supply a billion dollar company $1.25 million from the city of Mobile,” said one woman. “I see where Ms. Ludgood was asking a simple question about livable wages. Why can’t they answer the question about the livable wage?”
Even though council member Ben Reynolds said he doesn’t love the idea of using government incentives in any capacity, bringing TopGolf will more benefits to the city.
“It makes it more inviting for inviting for folks to live in Mobile and more to do,” said Reynolds. “More family things to do. It also means a lot more for revenue where are now attracting people from all across the region for TopGolf to come to Mobile.”
Can Mobilians afford TopGolf?
According to the US Census, from 2016 to 2020, the average median household income for those living in the city of Mobile was $43,456. For those living in the county, the average was $49,625.
In 2022, most living in this median income are financially strained from inflation and high gas prices. While gas prices are dropping, inflation and uncertainty about student loan forgiveness are looming.
If the Mobile prices for TopGolf are like those in Birmingham, affordability is unlikely for residents. At their venue, it’s $49 an hour to rent a bay after 5 p.m.
The Mobile City Council is expected to vote on the $1.25 million incentives Tuesday, Aug. 30. TopGolf would need five out of seven votes in order to start construction.