Event center planned for Briggs Woods

Organizers are hoping that a new expansion project at Briggs Woods Golf Course Clubhouse could bring more conventions, business gatherings and weddings to Hamilton County, and with it a positive economic impact for the area.

The plans call for building an expansion to the existing course clubhouse to offer an 3,200-square-foot grand ballroom/events center with a reception foyer and restrooms. The events center would be attached to the existing lower level meeting room, creating a 350-person capacity facility. Plans also call for renovations to the existing clubhouse, including the addition of upper level restrooms to ensure separation for golfers and events, as well as renovation of space for kitchen facilities and other esthetic improvements.

According to Kelly Haman, special events and marketing coordinator at Hamilton County Conservation, the idea for the project grew out of an experiment to expand their event space.

“In August 2012, we put up a garden tented area and focused on wedding receptions. Since we’re county owned, we wanted to be sure we were bringing out-of-county events into Webster City and also make sure we weren’t competing with existing local businesses.

The tent provided a unique event venue with additional seating and space for tables.

Haman said the test proved to be “100 percent successful.” She said that about 65 percent of the weddings held at Briggs Woods Club House come from outside of Hamilton County. And with those weddings came dollars spent not just at Briggs Woods but also at area hotels, gas stations, stores and restaurants.

“Unfortunately, with the tent, obviously you’re tied to the weather and about a four-month window,” said Russ Appel, general manager at Briggs Woods Golf Course. “And Kelly gets a lot of requests for either side of that window for weddings along with other off-season events.”

The need for a full-service, year-round venue quickly became apparent, according to Haman.

They noticed many of the events, business meetings and conventions turned up in other nearby cities that have the large facilities necessary for such event.

“Why should we let that stuff get away? Let’s fill our motels, why not get our restaurants busy? If we had a nice large events room, what could we do?” he said.

The current club house offers a large main room with a bar and pro shop, and a meeting room located on the lower level. The addition will connect to the existing building on the west face, overlooking the golf course.

He added that the central location of Webster City along U.S. Highway 20 and not far from Interstate 35 makes the area a natural choice for those seeking meeting or wedding sites. He said the lack of heavy traffic, generally lower prices and the proximity to motels and restaurants are also a plus.

“We saw an incredible need and there just wasn’t anything of this size in the area,” according to Appel.

And with an events facility, Haman said Briggs Woods will be able to set itself apart from other area venues.

“Webster City has some awesome partial-service and no-service event centers,” Haman said. “A lot of the corporate functions that we are losing to other cities, are going to hotels and other full-service venues – someone does the table setup, does the coffee, all the meals, has a meeting planner on staff that takes care of them from start to finish. We don’t have that in Webster City right now.”

“And of course, for those corporate events, they could throw in a little golf once the meeting was over,” Appel said.

Ground breaking is expected to take place in September of this year, with completion slated for March 2017.

The fundraising phase for the project is under way, Haman said. Funds have been established through Enhance Hamilton County Foundation – one for the building construction project and another fund for endowing the facility. The goal for the construction is $600,000.

“Our biggest hope is with the endowment fund is to make sure that now and into the future, the events center does not take any tax dollars. We want this to be self-supported entity,” she said. “The building will still be a county-owned facility, but we don’t want it to be a tax payer burden.”

While donations of any size are welcome, Haman said that several levels of naming opportunities exist for those wishing to make larger contributions. The opportunities range from sponsoring the grand ball room at $150,000, down to an engraved brick in the pathway leading to the gazebo for $250.

A public meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse. The meeting will give the public a chance to ask questions, hear from Joe Sorenson, Director of Affiliate Relations for the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Enhance Hamilton County Foundation’s affiliate partner, will be there to speak on tax benefits not only for the building fund, but also for the endowment fund, Haman said.

For more information on the project or to learn more about donor opportunities, Contact Haman or Appel at Briggs Woods Golf Course.