Members of the 120-year-old Wimbledon Park Golf Club finally agreed to sell the property to the All England Lawn Tennis Club through a transaction that will net each of the nearly 800 golf club members over $100,000 each.
Celebrities such as Piers Morgan and nearly 800 other members of a London, England golf club will earn £85,000 ($107,100) each after agreeing to the sale of their Wimbledon Park Golf Club to the organizer of the Wimbledon grand slam tennis tournament, reported CNN International.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has acquired the land, which lies across the road from the tournament venue, for £65 million ($81.9 million), with a long-term view to transferring Wimbledon’s qualifying event to the 73-acre site and building over the golf greens, CNN reported.
The two parties have been in discussion for a decade, CNN reported, but members of the 120-year-old golf club had resisted a number of lower bids before 82% agreed to Wimbledon’s “best and final offer” at a meeting in central London on December 13.
After the deal was announced, journalist and TV star Morgan tweeted: “Very sad news. Played there for over 30yrs & voted against the sale. Hope the superb pro-shop team get properly looked after.”
The purchase was driven by the need for the Wimbledon tennis organizers to keep pace with modernization and the development of world-class facilities for players and fans at the other three grand-slam tournaments in Australia, France and the U.S., CNN reported. Qualifying for Wimbldon currently takes place at Roehampton, about a 15-minute drive away.
“The decision of the Wimbledon Park Golf Club members to vote in favor of the acquisition offer is a hugely significant moment for the AELTC and The Championships,” said Philip Brook, chairman of the AELTC.
CNN reported that another longtime member of the golf club, Martin Sumpton, told the meeting at which to sell passed that it was a “very, very sad day for the history of golf and the future of Wimbledon Park.”
“120 years of playing golf at Wimbledon Park has ended because of greed,” Sumpton then told The Guardian, the British daily newspaper. “People wanted to take the money, and that’s hardly surprising. It is a lot of money.
“It’s not just the golf club that will be lost, but also all the employees who will be out of a job through no fault of their own,” Sumpton added.
The golf club will continue operating as normal until the end of 2021, CNN reportred, with nine or 10-holes operating for at least a further year. In the meantime, the AELTC will formulate its master plan for the site, which will also seek to “protect and celebrate the heritage of the park” and offer “increased public access.”
A sports club situated in the center of the golf course is not included in the sale, CNN reported.
“We have achieved what we set out to do many months ago in having certainty in our planning for the future,” added Brook, who clarified that the grounds would remain a sporting facility.
“I would like to emphasize that we have no intention of applying for change of use, planning permission or other approval to use the land that would be completely out of character for the AELTC and The Championships.”
Wimbledon built a retractable roof over its Centre Court at a reported cost of £100 million ($126 million) in 2009 and is in the process of adding a £71 million ($90 million) roof on its No.1 court for the 2019 event, CNN reported.