Malys Entertainment Center Rising in Conway
June 14, 2023 - Originally posted by Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Malys Entertainment Center, at 1040 Maly Curve in Conway, is still under construction in this undated courtesy photo. Sheridan Browning, Maly’s director of project development, said in a statement that the company is “hoping for a completion and opening in mid- to late-August” 2023. (Maly Group courtesy photo)
CONWAY -- The Maly Group, a firm that designs, constructs and manages its own developments, is building a new family entertainment center in Conway that will open before its bigger project -- at the old Wild River Country site in North Little Rock -- opens late next year.
"We're hoping for a completion and opening in mid- to late-August" of the Conway center, said Sheridan Browning, Maly's director of project development.
Malys Entertainment Center, at 1040 Maly Curve, will offer family entertainment -- an indoor amusement park of sorts with arcade games, independently run restaurants and bars, and other amusements like 24 bowling lanes (including eight set aside for parties and corporate events), an ax-throwing range and a two-story laser tag arena. Altogether, Browning expects to have seven to 10 managerial roles and 60 to 70 employees. The complex may stay open until 11 p.m. on weeknights and into the early morning hours on weekend nights.
Browning said Malys Entertainment Center will be similar to Little Rock's Main Event venue, which opened in February and is an outpost of suburban Dallas-based Main Event Entertainment, a chain of family entertainment centers now owned by industry behemoth Dave & Buster's.
Portland, Ore.-based Allied Market Research reported last month that family/indoor entertainment centers were a $30.9 billion industry worldwide last year, with a projected $88.7 billion valuation by 2032. They are popular among families with children and teenagers, though many market themselves as a venue for corporate meetings and retreats as well.
The research agency reports that they are most common in North America and reflect consumer interest in unique experiences, including the expanding technologies of virtual and augmented reality.
Browning said the total investment in Conway, including the land off Interstate 40 at Dave Ward Drive, is just under $20 million. It's right beside Maly's Courtyard by Marriott hotel, which the Maly Group opened last September. First Community Bank is providing financing for the family entertainment center, and First Service Bank financed the hotel. Maly expects the entertainment center to be cash-positive "almost immediately, within a month or two," said Browning.
Consultants with the Turfway Entertainment Management Group out of suburban Indianapolis have figured that the Conway center will primarily reach consumers within a 35 minutes' driving distance.
"Conway, Vilonia, Greenbrier and that area north," Browning said. "We're not really depending on the Little Rock metro area; I'm sure we'll get some visitors from that area, but we're not dependent on it."
That's in part because the Maly Group is also building a $30 million-plus family entertainment center called T-Time in North Little Rock, at the defunct Wild River Country site, near the Interstate 430 and 40 interchange.
"We're going to be our own competition," said Browning, adding that the project's design should finish by the end of next month, followed by getting financing and the beginning of construction this fall. Site work -- moving dirt -- is already going on, and the center may open in the fourth quarter of 2024.
"The layout will be different than this one [in Conway]," Browning said. It will have a double-level indoor-outdoor bar, with a beer garden doubling as a live music venue, pickleball courts, a half-acre miniature golf course and a driving range.
"We'll probably spend a lot of time in North Little Rock," said Browning, expecting a hotel or two, additional restaurants, rental housing and maybe an event center on the site.
Dallas-based Topgolf, which runs electronically enhanced driving ranges similar to the one planned at T-Time, is developing its own complex off I-430 in North Little Rock, at Bowman and Colonel Glenn roads.
Dr. James Thomas, a cardiologist who owns the Maly Group, told Arkansas Business last year that he thinks the Central Arkansas market can accommodate both businesses.
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