Golf Course Lessons for City Park: Could Audubon Golf's huge financial losses be City Park Golf's future?
In honor of Bob Becker's current (2007) foray into the world of constructing expensive new golf courses, this time in his role as CEO of City Park rather than VP of Planning for the Audubon Institute (visit CityParkNOLA.org), a job he held until July 2001, we thought it was time to remind people ONCE AGAIN of how this one turned out. Who knows: some day, reality may prevail over hype and misinformation.

The Audubon Commission Financial Statements of 2003 proudly note that "the newly renovated Audubon Park Golf Course and new Audubon Park Clubhouse generated additional revenues of approximately $1,540,000." They chose not to mention that expenses of over $2 million were also generated, resulting in a hefty loss for the new course in its first year of operation in 2003, a pattern that has continued every year since... as predicted by many who opposed the course in 2001. We've charted the numbers for 1995-2015 below, and attached the financial records for the skeptics.

While we've certainly never claimed to understand Audubon Institute economics, it seems that earning $60,000-$80,000 a year from an "old" golf course is far preferable to consistently losing $500,000-$1,000,000 per year from a new one instead. While revenues for year 5 of operation (2008) are certainly higher than the $1,318,449 projected by their economic study, the corresponding expenses for year 5 are projected at a mere $948,308 rather than the grim reality of $2,345,956.

Is this really what the AC-ANI had in mind? And more importantly, does this sound like good management to you? For an organization that receives almost one-third of its revenues each year from our tax dollars and spent $6 million of mostly public dollars to build this golf course, perhaps a bit of public accountability should be expected.

The following chart shows the Net Operating Income and Loss of the Audubon Golf Course over a twenty-year span, from 1995 through 2015. The old golf course was closed in July 2001 for construction of the new $6 million course from September 2001 through September 2002, and the new course opened to much fanfare in October 2002. The new 'not-a-restaurant' Golf Clubhouse opened in April 2003.

Audubon Golf Course Operating Income/Loss from 1995 to 2014

Year Operating Revenue Operating Expenses Operating Income (Loss)
1995 391,248 383,516 7,732
1996 454,237 393,226 61,011
1997 472,059 382,285 89,774
1998 448,445 386,991 61,454
1999 419,158 378,465 40,693
2000 384,668 376,122 8,546
2001 (open Jan-June) 220,322 280,365 (60,043)
2002 (open Oct-Dec) 278,332 279,634 (1,302)
2003 1,818,402 2,154,702 (336,300)
2004 1,957,023 2,598,105 (641,032)
2005 (closed Sept-Oct) 1,658,030 2,158,094 (500,064)
2006 1,598,172 1,841,907 (243,735)
2007 1,853,945 2,269,764 (415,819)
2008 1,841,812 2,345,956 (504,144)
2009 1,722,357 2,206,641 (484,284)
2010 1,707,150 2,183,153 (476,003)
2011 1,698,640 2,119,035 (420,395)
2012 1,714,905 2,211,347 (496,442)
2013 1,792,320 2,372,573 (580,253)
2014 1,691,577 2,454,532 (762,955)
2015 1,839,644 2,858,574 (1,018,930)
Audubon Commission Combining Statement of Revenues and Expenses, 1995-2004
2005-2014_AC-ANI_RevLoss_10pages.pdf

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