Axe-Throwing Site Plans Different Location, More Game Options | WGLT

Axe-Throwing Site Plans Different Location, More Game Options

Feb 3, 2020

A developer has axed plans for an indoor sports recreation business near downtown Bloomington and plans to open on the east side instead.

Owner and co-founder Daniel Kelley said a vacant warehouse at 216 E. Grove St. he planned to renovate for an axe-throwing and yard games business turned out to be too costly.

He said he and the owner of the building determined renovations would likely cost more than $500,000.

“It was going to be a bigger undertaking than we originally anticipated,” Kelley said. “We both wanted it to be successful and not fall flat. I think the best way to do that is, sometimes through failure the greatest success comes through.”

Kelley now plans to open The Backyard Social at 1707 E. Hamilton Road in the former Alexander Lumber building.

He said the venue will include games like football-bowling, skeeball, giant wall scrabble, archery tag with foam arrows and snookball, which combines soccer and billiards. He said he also plans to designate a kids’ area and install synthetic ice for curling and hockey practice and training.

Kelley said the trend known as eatertainment has done well in Chicago and other larger markets.

“Chicago shouldn’t have all the fun and games that everybody has to travel two-and-a-half hours to (visit),” Kelley said. “I think we can have it in our own backyard.”

Kelley said he plans to seek a liquor license to sell beer and wine, but not until after the business opens.

Kelley needs another special use permit from the city for a sports/fitness establishment. That could come as early as March.

Bloomington city officials said they welcome the new development and will help Kelley relocate.

“We will work with the owner to determine what their needs might be as it relates to this and see if we can help them to address those,” Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus said.

Kelley said he hopes to have the building open by April.

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