Talks with Grand Canyon University about El Rio Golf Course - Tucson News Now

Talks with Grand Canyon University about El Rio Golf Course

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tucson's El Rio Golf Course has been losing money and has no cash for capital upgrades.

Grand Canyon University wants to expand and Tucson is near the top of its list.

Serious talks are underway between the city and the university about expanding here. Where to build seems the only decision left.

For the time being, it appears El Rio is a logical choice for the University and the City of Tucson.

Tucson economic development officials and the University are talking about that in ongoing conversations.

"We're at a point where we're both very happy," says Ward 1 City Council member Regina Romero.

Grand Canyon's General Counsel Brian Roberts told News 13 "I can't comment on any specific site but land is important."

This land is especially important.

Grand Canyon says it needs about 100 acres to build a campus for about 5,000 students.

El Rio golf property is 105 acres so the size fits.

Roberts also said the site needs to have "infrastructure and accessibility for students."

The property is a stone's throw west of I-10 which will make it convenient for students.

But there's also a couple of concerns.

El Rio was home to the PGA Championship Tour stop for many years. Players like Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Lee Trevino played there giving it a storied history.

Many Tucsonan's have an emotional attachment.

The property is also adjacent to Barrio Hollywood. A college campus could be very disruptive.

"We want to make sure we bring an economic opportunity to Tucson but at the same time that we recognize the impact that that could cause to the immediate neighbors," says Romero.

Tucson doesn't have much time to solve those issues.

"We'd like to make an announcement in the next four to six weeks," Roberts says.

Roberts says the University has been in touch with high schools, churches, TREO and community officials.

"It's all been positive," Roberts said. And he added he could not think of a negative.

He says the University has already ruled out Las Vegas and Albuquerque for the time being saying "we're focused on the East Valley (Phoenix) and Tucson."

But he adds it doesn't mean one will win the other lose.

"It doesn't have to be either or," He says. "It could be both."

TREO has estimated a campus of that size could be worth $1.6 billion in economic development to Tucson with several hundred jobs added.

When asked about the expansion Roberts said "nothing is 100% but the question is where we would expand and when."

Romero says the talks include "how we can have a win-win for everyone to feel good about."

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