Public golfers’ eight-year wait for a new course In the Crescent City may finally be nearing an end.
New Orleans’s $15 million City Park Championship Course—which has been anticipated, debated, and rejected since 2006—finally got the go-ahead when, at the end of last week, the State of Louisiana began inviting bids from contractors, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.
Bids for constructing the course, already designed by Rees Jones in association with the PGA Tour and local landscape architecture firm Torre Design Consortium, must be turned in by 4 p.m. on September 29, with a view to begin construction sometime before the end of the year, The Times-Picayune reported.
“We’re excited,” City Park CEO Bob Becker said. “The state has finally authorized this project for bidding so we’re thrilled. We’re looking forward to a number of very competitive bids and hopefully something the state can award a contract to.”
The new course, which will play to 7,300 yards, is the crown jewel in a $24.5 million golf project that City Park is undertaking, The Times-Picayune reported. A new clubhouse will also be built, as will new maintenance and golf facilities, along with improvements to the North course and driving range.
The championship course will be built in the footprint of the former East and West courses on a 250-acre tract and will use existing oak trees and lagoons in the design.
The course has been mentioned as a possible venue for the Zurich Classic, the PGA Tour’s annual tournament in New Orleans, The Times-Picayune reported. TPC Louisiana is contracted to host that event through 2016.
Becker told The Times-Picayune he expects work on the course to begin by early next year if a contract is awarded.
“The state has to review [the winning bid] and it usually takes 30 to 45 days to award the contract and the contractor has to marshal,” Becker said. “Then we’ll be coming into the holiday season. It’s not clear to me exactly when work would start, but I would certainly expect it to start no later than January of 2015 [and] maybe sooner.”
If the project is completed by the stated date, Becker expects play to begin as early as January 2017. “I hope so,” he said. “There’s always a few months after the contractor finishes for the owner [City Park] to finish growing it in and take over maintenance, then get it schedule-oriented. But we definitely expect to be playing golf in early 2017.”
It has been a long wait for New Orleans golfers who lamented the loss of City Park’s golf courses—at one time there were four – North, South, East, and West) following Hurricane Katrina’s catastrophic push through the city in August/September 2005. Officials decided to rebuild two of them—the North, which reopened in 2008, and the new championship course.
In November of 2012, City Park announced it would co-manage the course with the Bayou District Foundation. The two parties agreed to a 35-year contract, during which City Park will receive 75 percent of the first $1.15 million in revenues each year, with the Bayou District getting 25 percent. After that number is reached, City Park will get 55 percent of revenues and the Bayou District will get 45 percent.
When that agreement was made, it was hoped the course would open some time in 2014. But several delays by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) and with in-state funding put the project on hold.
The $24.5 million price tag will be funded by three sources, The Times-Picayune reported: $9.5 million from the state’s capital outlay budget, $6 million from FEMA, and $8.9 from the Bayou District Foundation.
The park projects to get as much as $3 million in annual revenue from the new golf course, the North course and driving range about five years after completion of the new facility, The Times-Picayune reported.
“This is an important part of the park’s master plan we originally adopted in March 2005,” Becker said. “The project is fully funded. Getting the state to agree to fully fund it was key. They have done that, for which we’re really grateful.”