Monday, March 28, 2011

The Pay To Play Debate Continues....

I found this article in last Sunday's Pioneer Press and thought I'd pass it along. I am giving Nick Farraro complete credit for this. I'm simply re-posting this for conversations sake.

Inver Grove Heights may implement fee for disc golf course

City may OK agreement with vendor
By Nick Ferraro
Updated: 03/25/2011 10:56:27 PM CDT

Flinging discs at North Valley Park in Inver Grove Heights soon could come at a cost.

The city council on Monday will consider entering into an agreement with a vendor that would collect a user fee for the park's disc golf course. The switch to pay-per-play — a rarity in disc golf — would give the city a yet-unknown amount of revenue for maintaining and making improvements to the course, city officials say.

Last year, the city asked users to voluntarily pay to play the 18-hole course, which opened in the early 1990s. Annual $30 passes were available either online or at the community center, but many players either ignored the fee or weren't aware of it, said Tracy Petersen, the recreation supervisor for the city's parks and recreation department.

"It was difficult, because we didn't have staff down there to monitor the park and enforce (the fee)," she said.

The city in recent years had discussed implementing a daily fee but always ditched the idea after considering the cost of staff time needed to collect it, she said.
The one-year agreement between Inver Grove Heights and Fairway Flyerz is similar to the one neighboring South St. Paul entered into with the Little Canada disc golf retailer this week.

Fairway Flyerz staff would sell annual and daily passes, disc golf accessories and snacks in a temporary building at North Valley seven days a week. The retailer would keep all revenue generated from its on-site retail sales.

The city and vendor would evenly split admission revenue made during the season, which runs from April to October. Admission would be $5 a day, or $30 for a season pass.

There are a couple of differences in admission requirements between North Valley Park and Kaposia Park in South St. Paul. Disc golfers younger than 21 would be allowed to play for free at North Valley; in South St. Paul, there's no admission charge for those younger than 18. South St. Paul also charges an extra $10 to nonresidents who buy a season pass.

South St. Paul last year began charging to play on the 24-hole course at Kaposia Park. The fee had its share of critics, including one vandal who spray-painted "Don't pay to play in a public park" and "This is bull—— I pay taxes" on a temporary building where the fees were collected. This season, South St. Paul will get less of the revenue. Last year, the city took 90 percent of admission sales, or just over $30,000. This season, it will be 50 percent.

Mike Snelson, owner of Fairway Flyerz, said his nearly $10,000 cut in admission and retail revenue last year was not enough to cover his operating and startup costs.

 "I took a loss, and that was expected," he said. "But the initial agreement was put in place with the understanding that it could be adjusted."

Chris Esser, South St. Paul's director of parks and recreation, said city officials are "very pleased" to see the extra revenue.

"We gained admission revenue for the first time last year — revenue that will go toward improving our course and keeping people coming back," he said. Nick Ferraro can be reached at 651-228-2173


The more I think about pay-to-play courses the more I like the idea of "Fees" going to maintain the course.  After playing Kaposia and North Valley Park (pre-fee era) and having trouble finding the next tee-box due to lack of signage, I can appreciate the "fee" going towards course improvements/maintenance.  Where I get lost in the conversation is the paying to play at a public park issue. I really have no qualms with it. I'm just too cheap to drive all the way to IGH to play by myself.

On a side note. I'm on Spring Break right now and decided to play a round today. Temp: 38 degrees, Sunny. Felt like 45 in my opinion. Not that scores matter before May but I shot a 27 today which was 2 better than last week for 9 holes. Arm is still pretty tender and sore so 18 holes will have to wait.  I have been focusing on slow & good technique, straight drives, and quality putts.

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