Golf course response better than expected

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Last March Tucson asked golf course management firms across the country if they'd like to submit a proposal to manage Tucson's five courses.

It's called an RFP process, a request for proposal.

No one knew what to expect.

By the deadline, 15 companies submitted proposals and the has now city cut the list down to a more manageable seven.

"I was surprised we got any," said Ward VI city council member Steve Kozachik. "Much less 13 (sic 15) much less eight (sic 7) quality companies."

Kozachik has asked city staff for the CD containing the list of companies, but had not received it at the time of the interview.

News 13 has received a copy and is reviewing it.

Still, some consider the number of responses not surprising.

"Our day to day operations make money," one person who asked not to be identified told us. "Why wouldn't we be attractive. I had people calling me from day one."

Tucson City Golf carries and $8 million debt and is in need of about $5 million in capital upgrades for things like golf paths, carts, air conditioning units and new roofs.

It's the capital needs that has Tucson looking for ways to make up the difference.

The debt comes out of the city's general fund, which is money that can be used to other things, like road maintenance, police or fire.

The city has given the golf utility until October to find a way to pay back the debt.

So golf is looking for help.

This is Phase One of the process. Phase Two will include numbers like the overall budget, how much might be spent for upgrades, prices and whether the management firms are willing to take over or pay the debt.

"That will be telling," the golf source told us. "I'm willing to bet they want to manage three of the courses but not all five."

Tucson has been in discussions about closing Fred Enke and possibly El Rio because they don't make money.

Fred Enke needs $3 million in capital expenses. El Rio loses $500,000 a year.

Whether they will be part of a management package remains unclear.

"We're going down multiple. parallel paths right now," Fred Grey, the director of Tucson Parks and Recreation told us. "We're considering all options."

He says they're not taking the time to see in one works before moving on to another.

"We're looking at multiple options at the same time," he says.

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