CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper City Council posed a series of tough questions to the board responsible for managing the Three Crowns Golf Course and an endowment to help the Platte River Commons.
Council members voiced concerns over continuous subsidies of the golf course by the Amoco Joint Powers Reuse Board. The course lost more than $500,000 last year, a continuation of a trend that has gone on for years and one that is not expected to change dramatically this year.
“Is the deficit growing or shrinking?” asked Vice Mayor Kenyne Schlager early in the meeting.
“It’s been growing in general, but it peaked a couple years ago,” said Mike Huston, a joint powers board member. “We’re a little disappointed in that.”
Huston said the expectation that the course would break even in the short term is not likely to be met.
That assessment prompted Councilwoman Kim Holloway to ask whether at any point “this failing business” would be closed.
“That $300,000 a year is subsidizing a course that people aren’t using,” Holloway said, referring to the annual maintenance money allotted by BP.
Scott Sissman, another board member, then reminded council members and members of the Natrona County Commission that the funds, which come from a settlement with Amoco, were dedicated to the board.
“You can’t have it,” Sissman said Tuesday.
Three Crowns lost $506,000 last year. Assuming 14,000 rounds of golf are played this year, the course will likely lose about $450,000 more, Huston said.
Three Crowns, which is owned by the joint powers board and operated by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based OB Sports, generated about $1.2 million from the 16,582 rounds played, the pro shop, the restaurant and other facilities in the fiscal year that ended March 31, according to a previous Star-Tribune report.
The board’s building and facilities fund has about $6.5 million now, with an additional $4 million to be collected from BP in August. That payment will complete the $20 million pledge by BP, Amoco’s successor company, according to previous Star-Tribune reports. But that money must last for the remaining 90 years of the land-lease agreement between the company and the city and county.
The board has spent about $3 million to cover the course’s operating deficits since it opened in 2005.
Built on the former Amoco refinery site now known as the Platte River Commons, construction of the course was funded by the board and BP, with the board paying $1.25 million for development of the first nine holes and BP paying for the other nine.