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Golf negotiations to press forward

Submitted by on 1, March 17, 2010 – 4:55 amOne Comment

The City Council voted early this morning to allow city staff to negotiate with Kemper Sports Management for a long-term contract to run the Chuck Corica Golf Complex. The vote was 5-0.

The council also voted to ask Kemper to consider keeping the complex’s two existing 18-hole courses and to work with a local nonprofit on a deal to run the Mif Albright nine-hole course. The vote was 4-0, with Lena Tam abstaining.

Shortly after 1 a.m., the council voted to negotiate a contract with Kemper, which is seeking to run the complex for up to 50 years.The company has been running the complex on an interim basis for the past 15 months.

Kemper’s representatives said they would work toward making a laundry list of improvements at the complex – which both Kemper and the other company that bid for the contract said would cost upwards of $8 million. The company would also pay rent to the city.

Kemper had proposed 27 holes of championship golf, nine less than the complex offers now. The company had also proposed shuttering the Mif Albright course and building a new nine-hole course on the existing Jack Clark course, at a cost of $1 million, which would come out of the city’s golf enterprise fund.

Dozens of golfers turned out to ask the council to allow the Alameda Junior Golf Association to operate the Mif Albright course. The association has raised $18,000 and it earned a $20,000 “challenge grant” from the Perforce Foundation. Members of the Keep the Mif Coalition, which is working to keep the course open, said they’d need $40,000 to get things running next year.

Golf Commission President Jane Sullwold said the golfers are also planning a tournament in May that they said will put them over the top. And they said the could get grant funding to upgrade the course.

“We are ready to roll up our sleeves to make this work for Alameda,” Alameda Junior Golf’s Norma Arnerich said. “You heard it before from ‘The Godfather.’ But now the godmother is saying, this is an offer you can’t refuse.”

Golfers who remained into the wee hours – more than a dozen – gave high marks to Kemper for their management of the course. But they said they want the company to keep both of the existing 18-hole courses in place, to help grow rounds and to accommodate tournaments played at the complex.

Kemper’s reps said that a 27-hole complex would accommodate 130,000 rounds of golf a year. Last year, the complex hosted 111,000 rounds of golf.

They said the complex’s irrigation systems, drainage and greens need to be replaced or need serious renovations in the face of flooding that has lowered cart usage and driven players away mid-game.

City staff and a city consultant had selected Kemper over Bellows Golf Management/Landscape Golf Group, the other company to submit a proposal to run the complex. Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant said Bellows had offered $600,000 for upgrades at the complex. It was not clear what Kemper would pay.

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