Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 6, 2010

Set a Mif adrift

Filed under: Alameda, Business, City Council — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:20 am

Tonight the City Council will be considering closing Mif Albright (the par 3 golf course) permanently.   Of course this really isn’t a huge surprise, after all the reopening of Mif Albright was temporary, but I guess some folks thought that this was a huge win for the Alameda golfing community and that the City Council was significantly cowed under the pressure of this constituency that they would never revisit the issue of closing Mif Albright ever again.

In fact, from what I understand, the Interim City Manager was largely given credit for doing the right thing and urging the City Council to re-open Mif Albright, but it appears that the goodwill toward the ICM will be shortlived now that she is recommending the City Council close Mif Albright for good, from the staff report:

During this interim six-month pilot period (May-November) revenue, rounds played, and expenditures (both start-up and ongoing) were compiled and monitored monthly by Kemper and City management. Analysis reveals that in five of the six months the total number of rounds was down significantly from prior years. Only in the opening month of May did rounds played exceed those of the prior year, and only minimally. In May through August, revenues increased slightly due to vastly improved financial and accounting practices. During the traditional peak season in July, both revenue and the number of rounds played were down from the prior year. Six month revenues total $72,079 and six month expenditures totaled $93, 183, an operating deficit of $21,104 excluding start-up costs of $31,397.

It is anticipated that both the number of rounds played and the revenue generated will continue to decline during the less popular winter/spring seasons, while expenditures will remain fairly consistent. This trend will result in a larger deficit at June 30 2010. In the event that the course remains open for the remaining six months of the fiscal year the projected deficit is estimated to be $45,000, a deficit anticipated to recur if not increase annually due to maintenance costs. A number of factors such as weather and the economic state of the area could also affect this final number. This recurrent trend would result in further depletion of the Golf Reserve Fund, unaudited cash balance projected to be approximately $1,100,000 at June 30, 2009.

Reading liberally between the lines, it appears that the ICM was okay with reopening Mif for a little while during the season when it would get the most action.   But now that we are coming into the colder wetter months where golf play is not at its highest peak it appears that Mif won’t be spared from the chopping block again if the ICM gets her way.

In fact, according to emails circulating, there was a “special meeting” of the Golf Commission called on Saturday without proper noticing, but I guess the Golf Commission could argue that this was an “emergency” which would then circumvent the need for traditional noticing requirements.

Anyway, golfers will probably arrive en masse to tonight’s meeting to ask that the City Council, once again, save Mif Albright.   Maybe they will have stickers of some sort or a coordinated ribbon color (I’m guessing green) and there will be the requisite, “I am an Alameda citizen and a taxpayer” and probably some threats about not supporting re-election efforts if the vote declines to go their way.

And since I’m on a roll with the speculations of what will happen tonight, I am guessing that the City Council will punt on the issue and that a majority will ask that the ICM “find the money” somewhere to keep Mif Albright open and then allow whoever is selected as the new operator to make the decision to close down Mif Albright so that they don’t have to be the bad guys.


  1. Question from a non-golfer:

    Was the opening of the course by the Oakland airport the start of Alameda’s golf troubles?

    Comment by David Hart — January 6, 2010 @ 6:33 am

  2. According to the consultant report that reviewed the Chuck Corica golf course in 2008,it’s not just any one thing contributing to the golf course’s troubles. The issues include:

    1. Lots of competition, not just from Metropolitan, but other golf courses that have had serious investments made to their facilities.
    2. High labor costs
    3. Facilities in need of upgrading

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 6, 2010 @ 7:44 am

  3. # 1
    One more 500 lb gorilla hiding in the wings

    As U.S. Market Wanes, Norman Sees Golf’s Future in Global Terms

    Published: July 15, 2009
    TURNBERRY, Scotland — Greg Norman’s golf game has made an impressive comeback in the last year, but the recession has taken a toll on his golf club design business. Norman, who won the 1986 British Open here, said Wednesday that he has had to lay off 20 employees and was not optimistic about a quick return to normalcy in the United States market.

    Skip to next paragraph
    “America is absolutely dead, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to come back for quite a while, to tell you the truth,” Norman said. “We see, in our business, the rest of the world leading the comeback from the recession before the United States. I think the United States has got to get a lot of understanding of regulations that are being put in place by President Obama.

    “I spent time in China two weeks ago. I think I’ve got a lot of belief in China, like a lot of what the rest of the world does, not just in resources, but in development.”

    Norman said he believed golf would expand globally if it is included as a medal sport in the 2016 Olympics. China is experiencing a growth boom in the sport, he added, and officials there have said they expected that the country will have 26 million golfers by 2020. The latest estimate by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association of the number of golfers in the United States is 27.3 million, based on a 2007 study.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 6, 2010 @ 9:46 am

  4. why not keep it shuttered until the spring- say keep it closed from labor day till april? having it open only six months should reduce the costs greatly.

    or just do what other cities would do and privatize the whole damn thing.

    Comment by E — January 6, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  5. Whether the Golf course is privatized or partially shuttered, the major concern is that the city not sell off any of that land to a developer. We are short on Park land and open space here in Alameda.

    If the nine hole became a sports complex for recreational use we would still own it and have the use of that land. If the demand for Golf increase’s in the future we would still have that property. However if we make the huge mistake of selling or making some sort of trade, that piece of property is gone forever.

    Comment by John Piziali — January 6, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  6. Three thoughts about saving the Mif:
    1. Hasn’t Ron Cowan made enough money off of Alameda already? So now he decides he want to move the Harbor Bay Club to the Mif so he can build expensive homes at the old site. Just what we need, more traffic on Island Drive.
    2. Or even more ridiculous is the idea of a hotel and conference center. Check the vacancy rate at the hotel at the business park. Who would stay there?
    3. In the past when they said the course was losing money, they failed to remember that revenue is taken right off of the top that goes back into the Park and Rec budget before they figured if the course was losing money. If the city was able to assist the Boys and Girls Club with Measure W funds, why can’t some funding be allocated to the golf course since it fits the criteria better as far as improving recreational facilities?

    Comment by Fourth Generation Native — January 6, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

  7. jesus christ why is there such a fear of development/developers in Alameda?

    Take suncal out of the argument for half a second- profit is a necessary motive to get anything done. the City of alameda simply does not have the capacity to pursue redevelopment on its own. a bunch of dimwit politicians does not a developer make. if you geniuses that populate blog comments feel so strongly about local control, why don’t you start a LOCALLY OWNED developer company, if that’s the MOST IMPORTANT THING EVAAAAR.

    Or are you all closet socialists that want top-down government-run and -owned businesses throughout the city?

    Comment by E — January 6, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

  8. If you favor privatization of the golf complex, why then not of the base?

    And if government involvement so offends you, why are you so loudly in favor of a plan that massively subsidizes a private entity?

    Comment by David Hart — January 6, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

  9. there SHOULD be privatization of the base. giving to a PRIVATE developer would be doing that. having the CITY run it is not.

    and lol, david hart. this is the second time you’ve said I’m loud. Unless you read these comments aloud, there is no volume involved in the comments. I’m not recording audio comments.

    Comment by E — January 6, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

  10. If you think gifts and subsidies are “privatization” I suggest you check the definition of the word.

    Comment by David Hart — January 6, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  11. what gifts? a gift would be the navy giving the base to alameda for 1 dollar, something I read on these comments that is incredibly laughable. what should happen is the navy should just sell the damn land to whoever they feel like.

    Comment by E — January 6, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  12. It is you, Mr. E, who brings in the term “giving” in post 9. And if you belive that the Navy should sell to whomever it chooses, why do you advocate for B?

    Comment by David Hart — January 6, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

  13. Hey you two, lets get back to arguing about the Golf Course on this thread.

    I know the base is more fun but the Golf course is more immediate.
    If the city privatizes the Golf course we still own the land.

    Comment by John Piziali — January 6, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  14. Which of the city parks makes more money than Mif?

    Compare the answer to that question to how Mif does support the rest of the golf complex – like providing training and experience for the up and coming players, habit building for young golfers, quick rounds for executives, and a shorter walks for those without the ambition or energy to play the long courses.
    Shorter Tee offs don’t shorten the walk for anyone, but may shorten the tempers of more able players waiting behind those trying to play ‘short holes’ on the long courses.

    This is an absurd plan – and Mif doesn’t cost as much $ as the City claims – none was hired when Mif was re-opened. On the issue of water – we use gray water for most of the complex. That water should be brought to the rest of the course. There is no shortage of gray water in our city, just a shortage of will. We don’t even reuse the gray water of the golf complex’s own facilities. Maybe the ARPD should learn to ‘go green’. It is not rocket science. Why can’t our dept managers and directors direct and manage?

    This seems to be all smoke , and the real goal looks to be for some CC members who have gotten election support from the developer and his friends to gift more of our city’s ‘community property’ to Cowan.

    Comment by local resident — January 6, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  15. Response to comment #1: The opening of Metropolitan at the Airport surely took some business away, but the larger problem is that the Alameda courses were not maintained properly and the facilities were not upgraded over a period of many, many years. An example that non-golfers can appreciate: Metropolitan has a new clubhouse and event facility that is used for weddings, parties, corporate events, etc. Chuck Corica’s clubhouse is in terrible shape, could not host any such events, and loses out on a ton of business that way. For those who golf, you know that the conditions at Chuck Corica have improved a lot recently, but with golf courses it either takes many years with a first rate superintendent, or a large infusion of money for a makeover, to turn around years of neglect. The aesthetics of a course make a big difference in the amount of business they do and how much they can charge; that’s why Pebble Beach is so expensive. The good news is that Chuck Corica has built in advantages over Metropolitan: 1) there are two 18 hole courses; Metro has one, and 2) at Chuck Corica you don’t have planes coming in for a landing in the middle of your backswing (or putt) like you do at Metropolitan. With more time under the new management, the conditions at Chuck Corica will continue to improve, which should make them more than viable in the long term.

    Comment by Michael Rich — January 6, 2010 @ 6:07 pm

  16. The problem is as I see it, know one knows about it…most people in the Bay Area haven’t even heard about Alameda except people in Oakland and San Leandro. When we tell people we live in Alameda…they thought we meant Alameda county and say where at? My friend and his posse they go to the Presidio or San Bruno …he didn’t even know Alameda had a golf course here and they do it every weekend. Marketing and updating is a key…they have a beautiful course…no one know about it.

    With the Tiger Wood’s recent events…it could make it more popular…bad pub. doesn’t strange things.

    Marketing is the key? What have they done. Where I was growing up they only had the rich people living on the ridge were playing golf. On TV only rich business man trying to make deals played. Market it to the common people starting with kids. Have the parks and rec’s department have a 8 and under league…a 12 and under league and so on. Soccer is crazy in Alameda, but so could golf…appeal to the Asian community…my best friends and God daughters are Asian…they are in Gymnastics, Piano Lessens, Ballet, Soccer. And the Black community, and the white community. And the Latino community. They are suffering because they haven’t changed the stereotype from rich old white guys/businessman and reached out to those who can actually keep them going…just regular people. If they reached out to these people they wouldn’t even have to do much to update the course…but they don’t. I hope I din’t offend any race…didn’t mean it that way…it was just trying to point out the shortcomeing in Marketing golf has…and that course.

    Comment by Joaquin — January 6, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

  17. 14.Most of your comments are interesting and your point on gray water a good one but please be specific with references to developer support to local politicians. I’m not saying you are wrong, but I would like the standard for making such statements to be some connected dots. These off hand remarks are made all too often as if it’s obvious to everybody which it isn’t.

    Comment by M.I. — January 6, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

  18. Speaking of setting a Milf adrift, according to Cybergolf:

    “The number of women golfers is, in fact, growing faster than male golfers. Women now represent over 25% of all U.S. golfers. If we add the number of women who try the game at driving ranges and short courses, the increase in the number of women golfers would be even greater.”

    One could interpret the closing of the Par 3 Course as a direct affront to those of the fairer sex who seek nothing more than a few shorter strokes in the course.

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 7, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  19. Jack, Post#18

    Are you talking about MILF’s or MIF. Just wondering.

    Comment by John Piziali — January 7, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  20. John, what in the L are you talking about? How could I confuse a golfer with a cougar?

    Comment by Jack Richard — January 7, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

  21. JR… MILFs are different than cougars. Milfs are by definition mothers you’d like to f*ck. cougars are simply any older woman who is interested in younger men. they don’t necessarily have to be MILFs.

    I guess it’s all milfs are cougars, but not all cougars are milfs.

    Comment by E — January 7, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

  22. although I suppose one could be a MILF without “preying” like a cougar would, by definition do.

    but back to Alameda, where sadly, unlike walnut creek or palo alto, there is a dearth of cougars.

    Comment by E — January 7, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

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