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Letter: Reopening MNGL isn't logical

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For months I have followed Red Wing City Council's examination of what to do with the closed Mississippi National Golf Links.

Recently, the council posted on its website a summary of feedback from all nine professional golf course operators who did not respond to the city's request for proposal. This feedback confirmed what has become obvious: There is no objective case to be made from a strategic, financial or community perspective to further invest in or subsidize the MNGL property as a golf course.

In a nutshell, the professionals plainly said there is no way the course can generate enough revenue to cover the capital investment and operating cost required to open and run the course. Both the operators and the consulting firm hired by the council agree that somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000 per year in city funding is required to make MNGL viable, even if just 18 holes are re-opened.

Another important fact is that there is little data to suggest that MNGL attracts significant tourist traffic or substantially contributes to the health of our local economy.

Golf is a struggling industry, with declining participation and supply greater than demand. In our area alone, there are 15-plus courses within a 30-mile radius that are affordable and open to the public. Importantly, Red Wing Golf Club, which is getting ready to celebrate its 100-year anniversary as one of the first 10 golf courses in the state, has opened its doors to the community.

With all this in mind, why is the City Council still deciding if it will re-open MNGL? There is no logical or sensible rationale for this when our tax dollars could be put to better use for downtown development, riverfront investment or youth education and services, all of which would serve a greater population of our community than reopening an unneeded golf course for a small minority.

Residents can check out actual responses from professional golf course managers by Googling Red Wing MN city council golf course information. Click on Mississippi National Golf Links background information. Scroll down to Schoenbauer Consulting summary of findings.

Tom Ellis

Red Wing

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