St. Paul looking to privatize 2 city-owned golf courses

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St. Paul officials are looking for help to manage two of the city's oldest golf courses.

The Star Tribune reports the St. Paul City Council will vote Wednesday on plan that would allow the Parks and Recreation Department to look for private companies to take over operations of the Phalen Golf Course and the Como Golf Course.

The Phalen Golf Course, built in the 1917 on the city's east side, is the city's oldest golf course. The Como Golf Course was built in north end of the city in 1929.

A recent city survey asking residents to measure park and recreational offerings ranked golf 12th. Sixty-six percent of the households said nobody played golf.

The city also owns the Highland National and its adjoining 9-hole course in the Highland Park neighborhood, but city council president Kathy Lantry says since bonds are still being repaid on a 2005 renovation, a private leasing agreement would be complicated.

According to the Pioneer Press, St. Paul officials said operating losses in the city's four golf courses would top $1 million this year.

City communications director Joe Campbell tells WCCO-TV "at some point you have to "balance the services you provide with the financial impact it has on the city" and that the golf courses were "not making the cut."

St. Paul apparently isn't the only city struggling to operate city-owned courses.

Citing the most recent data available from the Minnesota State Auditor's Office, the Pioneer Press says in 2011 only six out of 40 city-owned courses across the state made money -- resulting in a total loss in Minnesota cities at $4.7 million.

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