Denison officials and representatives for HeyDay Entertainment came together Friday to announce the opening of a new bowling alley and entertainment center within Gateway Village. The new HeyDay Entertainment — the third location for the Oklahoma-based chain — will feature bowling lanes, a two-story laser tag arena, ropes course, and 18-hole mini-golf course, among other features.
Friday's announcement marks the second entertainment venue to announce plans for a Denison location this week. On Wednesday, officials with Schulman's Movie Bowl Grille announced development on a 66,000-square-foot location, featuring an eight-screen movie theater, on 23 acres of land at Crawford Street and U.S. Highway 75.
Denison Mayor Jared Johnson said the addition of HeyDay Entertainment will fill a void that the city has looked to address for more than 10 years — activities and development aimed at families.
“We've heard that for well over a decade,” Johnson said. “What is there to do for kids? What is there for kids?”
Johnson said Friday's announcement was yet another example in a growing list of accomplishments for the city. Among the other accomplishments, Johnson said work was recently completed on a $14 million apartment development just to the west of where HeyDay will be built. Further north, the $17 million Texoma Health Foundation Park is expected to open next year.
“We've talked about Team Denison for the past five years and what that looks like,” Johnson said. “This is yet another project where we say, 'It takes a lot of us to make things happen'.”
Johnson said the decision to recruit HeyDay as a major anchor tenant for Gateway Village comes during a transitional period for local retail. In the past, major big-box retail chains would often serve as an anchor and attract other developments. However, with the increase in e-commerce, entertainment destinations have become the new major anchor for future development.
This entertainment center chain also has locations near Oklahoma City and Norman, Oklahoma. The first location opened in 2007, and was expanded into a larger facility about three years ago. The Norman location was named Top Family Entertainment Center in North America by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions in 2015.
Brad Little, managing partner for Heyday Entertainment, said he did not initially plan to expand the company but was impressed by what he saw when he was approached by Denison. For its third location, Little said he expects to invest about $10 million in the project.
“I hope you realize that we realize how awesome your community is,” he said, fighting back tears.
Little said the location will be designed to cater to the entire family with areas designed for children and adults.
Developer Ryan Johnson, representing Covenant Development, said HeyDay is the first major retail anchor for the development. Gateway has already seen other mixed-use developments ranging from the Hilton Garden Inn and both single- and multi-family developments, but retail development has been a long time coming.
With HeyDay as the main anchor, Johnson said there will be an additional 21 pad sites built around it for additional development. An additional 200,000 square feet of space will also be dedicated to future retail and restaurant development, he said.
“These will be the kinds of restaurants that you'd see in the Metroplex,” he said.