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North Little Rock officials detail plans for new family entertainment venue

Daniel Breen
North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick details plans for a new golf entertainment venue in a news conference at City Hall on Friday.

A new golf and bowling entertainment venue is coming to central Arkansas, with officials estimating an annual economic impact upwards of $10 million.

North Little Rock city officials held a news conference Friday to detail plans for the development, which is being led by Conway cardiologist Dr. James Thomas. The venue will be built on a 67-acre site that had been a water park, which closed in 2019 after more than 30 years in operation.

“We looked at a few locations in central Arkansas closer to Little Rock, mostly in west Little Rock, and about eight months ago we learned [of] the opportunity to be in the Wild River Country location. I don’t think we have looked at any other place after that. It was centrally located, also has a reputation for family entertainment,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ company the Maly Group is also leading development of a similar entertainment venue in Conway. He said the North Little Rock facility will feature a driving range and bowling alley, as well as virtual reality laser tag, arcade games and other amenities.

“There’s going to be indoor golf simulators, there’s going to be esports which is getting very popular all over the country. We have Spin Zone, which is a smaller version of the bumper car, again trying to bring more entertainment to that,” Thomas said.

The venue will also feature two bars and a restaurant with outdoor seating, he said. The development is expected to take up about 15 acres of the 67-acre site, the rest of which he said could feature hotels, restaurants and apartments.

North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick said he hopes the development will draw visitors from around the region.

“This is something for, as I said, not only for North Little Rock, but Maumelle, western Little Rock, all of central Arkansas, Conway… and the visitors who come here for events, when we bring people here, now we’re going to have something else to attract, and yes, go spend their money. So I’m very, very happy about it,” Hartwick said.

The golf portion of the venue will use technology from Kansas City, Mo.-based T-Shotz, which tracks golf balls electronically and awards points for hitting targets. The game is similar to TopGolf, a venue which Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. unsuccessfully attempted to bring to that city.

Officials say construction should begin in the next few months, and are aiming for completion by the end of 2023.