The mayor of Sumner, Wash. was authorized by a 6-1 vote to begin to search for a buyer of the course, which opened 17 years ago but still owes about $5.77 million for land and construction and holds another $900,000 in debt for internal loans. The club has been managed by Billy Casper Golf, which says it has proposed an amended contract and wants to help replace a clubhouse that was destroyed by a 2009 flood.
The cash-strapped Sumner Meadows Golf Links in Sumner, Wash. may now be put up for sale, reports The Tacoma News Tribune, after Sumner’s city council voted 6-1 on October 15 to authorize the town’s mayor to begin marketing the links for sale.
In the short term, the city may renegotiate its contract with the course’s private managers, Billy Casper Golf (BCG), the News Tribune reported. The resolution passed by the council also authorized Mayor Dave Enslow to continue negotiating “in good faith” with the management firm.
“How this whole process comes down has yet to play itself out – whether it’s quick, whether it’s slow, whether [a sale] happens at all,” Enslow told the News Tribune. For now, he added, he expects the 18-hole golf course on the city’s north end to continue operating.
The city hasn’t received formal offers on the course or land, but there has been interest, Enslow said. The council would have to approve any sale.
Sumner Meadows Golf Links opened about 17 years ago. While use has rebounded some recently, the News Tribune reported, Sumner officials say the city doesn’t make enough money from the course to cover the debt incurred for the land purchase and construction. Sumner still owes about $5.77 million for the land and construction, including this year’s amounts. It also must pay back about $900,000 in internal loans.
Officials have said the city can’t continue to subsidize Sumner Meadows without raising taxes or cutting city services, according to the News Tribune.
Sean Silva, a regional manager for Billy Casper Golf, told the News Tribune that he’s presented the city with an amended contract that would be “more favorable [financially] to the city in the near term” than the existing pact. Silva declined to specify the new proposed terms.
Alternatively, the News Tribune reported, BCG has offered to help replace the clubhouse that was destroyed in a 2009 flood in exchange for a 10-year contract extension. Silva said the loss of the clubhouse has contributed to a drop in income, although the News Tribune reported that city officials have said the course didn’t generate enough money to cover all the debt, even with a clubhouse.
Under the current management contract arrangement, the News Tribune reported, the city retains 98 percent of the greens fees, and Billy Casper keeps 2 percent. The management company also collects other fees, such as golf cart rentals, and receives an annual operations payment from the city, which was about $630,000 in 2011.
In a recent city survey sent to Sumner mailboxes, a majority of the 350-plus people who responded indicated they wanted the city to pursue selling the course, even if it meant the land would be developed, the News Tribune reported.
That has the potential to be lucrative, according to the News Tribune. The city owns about 280 acres on and around the course, about 172 acres of which are considered developable. Selling about three-quarters of those acres could yield $35 million, city officials have said.
Deputy Mayor Steve Allsop said on October 15 that a sale could help reduce sewer rates, pay for parks improvements and bring other benefits. “I think it’s very exciting. And I’m really pleased that this potential is there,” he told the News Tribune.
Councilman Randy Hynek, who cast the sole “no” vote, told the News Tribune that he rejected the resolution in part because he doesn’t want to see all of the property sold.