New Golf Facility Continues to Lose Money
[From 2003, updated 2007] Despite the ANI's claim that the new golf course was necessary to provide 'operational funds for maintenance of Audubon Park', their much-heralded new facility finished its first full year of operation (2003) firmly in the red, with a loss of $212,696, plus depreciation of $123,604 for a total Operating Loss of $336,300. Their 'not-a-restaurant' clubhouse food service, however, accounted for 24% of total revenue in 2003, far more than the 3% they had projected.

But even though the ANI quickly began renting the clubhouse as a private party rental facility, something they had vowed would never happen (see below), the golf facility has continued to lose money. In 2007, with operating revenues of $1,818,402 and expenses of $2,154,702, the Audubon Golf Course closed 2007 with an Operating Loss of $415,819.

Figures from the first full year of golf course and clubhouse operation (2003)

One of the main rationales put forward by the Audubon Commission for the costly new golf course redevelopment was that it would create revenue for the maintenance of the public areas of the park (see an interview with Dale Stastny).

Unfortunately, as the following figures indicate, the new facilities have so far done nothing of the sort:

Food Service in Clubhouse Golf Course Fees/Pro Shop
Operating Expenses $644,500 $1,390,300
Revenue $431,300 $1,386,900
Profit/Loss $213,200 LOSS $3,400 LOSS

However, these figures also indicate that the food service alone managed to generate 24 percent of the revenues for the entire golf course facility, which includes income from green fees, course rentals and the pro shop-- not bad at all for a simple food service meant to cater to golfers! When tirelessly reiterating the AC/ANI mantra that the clubhouse was NOT a restaurant because restaurants are not allowed in Audubon Park, COO Dale Stastny stated: "The zoning ordinance specifically defines what a restaurant is. Primarily what it is, is a building that gets about half its revenues from selling food. Well, we're going to get about 3% of our revenues from selling food because it's a clubhouse. It sells tickets to the golf course, it rents carts, it sells stuff in the pro shop, and it provides a food service." (see an interview with Dale Stastny).

As was the case with the controversial expansion of the zoo itself, AC/ANI claims that newly generated revenues would be put to good use in the park have so far proved unconvincing. That their restaurant, built with public money and generating nearly half a million dollars in revenue, could make such a substantial financial loss in its first year despite claims of its "outstanding success" might surprise impartial observers. Could the time be far distant when we will hear the ANI claiming that the new clubhouse simply MUST be allowed to become a non-golf-related event rental facility like the Tea Room in order to make any money?

A more cynical observer, on the other hand, may also note that if the clubhouse or the course itself were to make a profit, Audubon might be held to its promise with regard to spending some of that money on the public areas of the park. Better then to lobby in their new Master Plan for additional new building construction on the Riverview that will be available for public rental (surprise), and which they will no doubt claim will also be used to "generate monies for the maintenance of Audubon Park".

Expansion of the clubhouse food-service facilities is planned At a meeting of the Audubon Commission held on Thurday August 19th 2004, a motion was passed to accept bids for $ 14 million in construction projects. The largest amount, $ 7 million, was for the insectarium., but also included were $ 500,000 for improvements in the Tea Room and $ 75,000 for improvements to the Golf Clubhouse.

According to representatives of the Audubon Nature Institute, the Clubhouse and Tea Room needed the expansions in order to improve service capacity. According to ANI, the Clubhouse needs additional space for freezers and storage. Also according to ANI, there is insufficient space to "plate up" in the Tea Room; for large events, they have had to work out of tents, so the Tea Room expansion includes a new "plate room" and space for freezers.

In approving the Clubhouse in 2002, the Board of Zoning Adjustments required that it be operated "as a meeting facility and not operate as a full scale restaurant." However, the facility currently draws crowds, particularly for lunch and brunch, and often appears to serve the general public more than golfers.

It is clear, as SaveAudubonPark has maintained all along, that the Clubhouse is intended as a profit center for the Audubon Institute, and far exceeds what would be needed to serve the needs of golfers. Audubon's own consultant said as much:

In most cases, the needs of the public golf patron precludes the necessity for extensive locker rooms, showers, or restaurant facilities. It is, in fact, rare when facilities such as these are more than a waste of space and development funds.

Though Audubon and, in particular, Mr. Forman, have promised that the building spree at Audubon was over, it is clear that the Commission and Institute still see commercial expansion into public green space as their mission.

See Also...

The Clubhouse Reality II
Clubhouse dining seating goes from 39 to 125

The Clubhouse Reality I
More drawings and observations on the size and nature of the new building

Newsletter February 12th 2003
ANI's own study describes an extensive clubhouse as a "waste of space"

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