Motorists buzzing along East Broad Street between Interstate 270 and Hamilton Road might get the feeling something's missing.
The 86,000-square-foot inflatable golf dome at the former Four Seasons Golf Center, 5000 E. Broad St., was deflated Sept. 19 by the two business partners who purchased the dome for $1,750 via online auction in July.
Darrell Miller and John Williamson hope to repurpose it as a multisport venue in central Ohio, Miller said.
But doing so will require investors, Miller said, and it remains unknown how soon any project will move forward.
Miller, 59, is the owner of the Ohio Bootleggers, a team in the Premier Basketball League.
He also is on the coaching staff at Otterbein University.
He operated USA Sports Academy, on East Fifth Avenue between North Hamilton and James roads, until its closure two years ago.
Miller said if investors step up, he plans to use the dome at a future site.
"We want it to be a big event center," said Miller, adding it would not be limited to golf.
A driving range would be a component, he said, but it also could have basketball courts, weight-training equipment, and possibly soccer and lacrosse fields.
Miller's business partner, John Williamson, 31, is a professional basketball player.
The Marion-Franklin High School graduate played collegiate basketball at the University of Cincinnati and plays professionally overseas in leagues in Israel and France.
"We had been on-and-off looking for something (since USA Sports Academy closed) and this became available," Miller said.
He acknowledged it will take a considerable investment to open a new facility -- such as the potential $300,000 needed to pour a concrete foundation at a new site, required to anchor the dome to the ground.
Miller said he's uncertain if the dome will even be useful.
He said he is working with a company in St. Louis to build more exit doors in the dome.
"It's about a 15-year-old dome, (so) spending more money -- I don't know yet if that is the right move to make," Miller said.
Four Seasons Golf Center closed Feb. 28 after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the city of Whitehall.
The center had leased 37 acres on the north side of East Broad Street, east of North Hamilton Road, from the city since 2001, renewing the lease multiple times.
But according to Whitehall officials, Four Seasons missed a deadline to renew and the lease expired March 31, 2016.
City officials said then "it was not in the best interest" of the city to renew the lease.
Four Seasons filed a complaint March 23, 2016, in Franklin Common Pleas Court citing the city's verbal indication that it would renew the lease and asking the court to compel the city to renew it; Whitehall asked the court to require Four Seasons to vacate the property.
The golf center remained in operation during the dispute.
In December 2016, both parties reached an agreement in which the city would pay Four Seasons $250,000 and the center would cease operations by Feb. 28 and vacate the property by March 7.
The city intends to use about 13 of the 37 acres for office development; the remainder will be absorbed into Whitehall Community Park.
Whitehall officials are ready for the next step.
"(We are) excited to begin transforming the former golf-dome property to the benefit of our residents," Development Director Zach Woodruff said.
"By recapturing approximately 20 acres to increase Whitehall Community Park, residents and visitors alike will be able to utilize a nearly 85-acre gem in the community.
"In addition, converting a portion of this site for commercial development will establish the long-term revenue necessary to improve our parks to allow them to reach their potential," Woodruff said.
Whitehall has announced $9.6 million worth of upgrades for the park, potentially including a new playground and walking trail, a disc golf course, a natural amphitheater, a fishing pier and a launching ramp for canoes and kayaks into Big Walnut Creek.
The work, which city leaders said could take up to 10 years to complete, also could include a new entrance to the park from East Broad Street and renovations to the community building, including a new HVAC system and windows.
Part of the golf center site will be developed as an office park.