Tucson city golf courses handed over to Scottsdale operator

2014-02-04T05:00:00Z 2014-02-04T20:56:04Z Tucson city golf courses handed over to Scottsdale operatorBy Darren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Four city employees lost their jobs when the city ceded management duties to a private company this past weekend.

Scottsdale-based OB Sports assumed control of Tucson’s five municipal golf courses on Saturday as part of a five-year contract aimed at turning around city golf’s fortunes.

Tucson Parks and Recreation Director Fred Gray said 13 of the city’s 20 full-time civil-service golf employees were placed in other positions within the city.

Of the remaining seven, three took jobs with OB Sports, while two others declined a job with OB Sports and were laid off, Gray said.

The final two didn’t receive a job offer from the new management company and couldn’t be placed in another city position, Gray said. One of them was laid off while the other retired.

All of the city’s approximately 95 part-time and on-call employees were offered jobs by OB Sports, Gray added. Gray didn’t know how many actually accepted positions.

OB Sports was selected in November out of 15 original bidders and entered into contract negotiations.

Although the company is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the courses, the city will maintain ownership of the courses and control what it costs to play a round of golf.

In return for managing the courses, OB Sports will receive $240,000 a year, with an annual incentive of 5 percent of the increase of total golf revenues above what they are now.


The company expects to hit the ground running. In the first year, it estimates it can net $102,000, rising to around $713,000 by 2018.

OB Sports expects to reach those figures by keeping labor costs low and increasing the number of rounds played and the amount of food, beverages and merchandise sold.

The company will also get some help in the form of an annual water credit from the city. In its proposal, OB Sports penciled the credit in at $486,000 a year. But Gray said the amount would fluctuate based the company’s actual water use.

If the city didn’t provide the credit, the company estimated it wouldn’t see a profit until around the third year of the contract.

The contract marks the newest phase in  a nearly two-year process to turn around golf’s fortunes. Last fall, the City Council voted to close Fred Enke and make El Rio a hybrid park/golf course as a way to alleviate city golf’s $8 million deficit.

But before any of that could happen, the council committed to seeing if an outside firm could lift city golf out of the red, which led to a bidding process in which OB Sports was selected.

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com. Follow on Twitter @DarrenDaRonco

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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