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Why ‘the Topgolf of Soccer’ Chose Dallas for Its First U.S. Club

TOCA Social is expected to bring as many as 175 jobs to its new venue in the Design District.
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TOCA Social

TOCA Football debuted its social soccer experience last August in London, drawing high praise from professional soccer players, entertainment stars, and more. Now, the California-based company is bringing an expanded version of its TOCA Social to the Dallas Design District.

Ewing Properties Texas is redeveloping a one-story, 36,000-square-foot building at 1313 Riverfront Blvd. into a three-story, 57,000-square-foot space to accommodate TOCA Social’s three levels of gaming, entertainment, eats, and drinks.

“We’re keeping the existing building because we love the adaptive reuse theme of this project—it fits the neighborhood and it fits our ethos,” Zach Shor, senior vice president of TOCA Social U.S. told D CEO. “The reason we fell in love with this property is the amazing juxtaposition between the old 1950s warehouse and the new, two stories on top that we [and Ewing Properties Texas] are going to build from scratch. They’ll offer the best views of downtown Dallas.”

There will be twice as many TOCA Social boxes, which can accommodate up to 12 players, as the flagship London location with 27 boxes on the first level and seven on the second level. “Double the boxes is testament to our excitement for the Dallas market,” said Alex Harman, president of TOCA Social.

The restaurant will be staffed with a Michelin-trained chef.

The venue expansion is part of a broader $250 million facelift to the district, by the landlord Ewing Properties Texas. Shor—a former COO of Topgolf International and head of innovation at GameStop—believes being a part of the renovation to the district was “pretty much a no brainer.”

“Dallas has become a sport, entertainment, and tech hub,” he said. “And the location we were able to find in the Design District has an incredibly supportive landlord, who is letting us do some pretty amazing things to the building.”

About half of the guests attending the London location do not consider themselves soccer fans, according to Harman. “Sometimes it’s our restaurant experience, our cocktail list, and atmosphere that draws people in.”

The Dallas venue will be a kitchen led by a Michelin-trained chef. The menus, which are currently being curated, will differ slightly from the London locale.

The proprietary gamified screens incorporated in the TOCA boxes is not unlike golf simulators, however there is one main difference. “Our tech took inspiration in its original conception from golf simulators,” Harman said. “But obviously, golf simulators have a static ball. What we developed is a technology that can track balls dynamically—which was one of the biggest challenges we had to overcome.”

The proprietary tech originated for soccer training, but is now being used for entertainment.

When TOCA execs were eyeing a North American expansion, soccer love, multicultural demographics, youth sports, and a city thirsting for entertainment were top-of-mind factors. “The Latin American influence in Dallas obviously helps the soccer growth,” Shor said. “FC Dallas has done a fantastic job with its team and youth program. And just in terms of youth sports in general, Dallas is such a huge center of energy for that. But the people that are just looking to have a socially competitive experience, who are going out to eat, to have a drink, and to play a unique and novel game, that really drew us to Dallas.”

Depending on the season, TOCA execs expect the Dallas club to be staffed with upwards of 150 employees. TOCA’s corporate office in Dallas currently houses four employees. “But I would expect our [Dallas] office over the next year or two, to have anywhere between 20 to 25 people,” Shor said.

With a total of $100 million in funding and more rounds on the horizon, five additional TOCA Social locations are expected to be announced in the near future. “And those five additional locations are definitely not going to be the last by any means,” Harman said.


Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…

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