On a unanimous vote, Platte County is out of the golf business with the sale of Shiloh Springs Golf Club to Overland Park, Kan. based Great Life Kansas City.
The long expected sale was finalized at the Tuesday, Feb. 20 administrative session — postponed from Monday due to the President’s Day holiday. Though in the past, discussions on the future of Shiloh have drawn large crowds of those wishing to keep the course as a county-owned facility, there were no public comments at the Tuesday administrative session.
The sale price for Shiloh is $610,000 and the deal includes several stipulations, including about $750,000 to $1 million in capital improvements over the next five years. Additionally, Great Life Kansas City will continue operation of youth golf programs, particularly in cooperation with the Platte County R-3 School District, and the continuation of other ongoing community programs.
In the request for proposals issued to potential buyers, the property was valued at about $5.2 million.
“This is a win for the county, because the losses at the course are well documented,” said director of parks and recreation Daniel Erickson at the meeting. He said 2017 losses were estimated at about $150,000.
According to the county’s 2016 annual financial report, Shiloh’s loss increased that year. Operating loss before depreciation was at $144,553 in 2015, but in 2016 the loss rose to $247,448. Auditors reported the loss was a result of a management contract with KemperSports and benefits for course employees.
Commissioners Elliott, Ron Schieber and Dagmar Wood have all voiced concerns about the county-owned course. Wood and Elliott ran their election campaigns with the sale of Shiloh as a promise and last August, made good on that promise by issuing a request for proposals for purchase of the course. In October, the county received two proposals - from Great Life Kansas City and local developer and Shiloh Springs founder Gary Martin – but the terms of those proposals were kept confidential.
Great Life was chosen on a 2-1 vote in November after staff visited several courses owned and operated by Great Life Kansas City and felt the company was the best choice to take over Shiloh Springs.
Wood and Schieber expressed their pleasure with the process, and were optimistic that the outcome will be in the best interests of golfers and the county itself.
“Selling Shiloh Springs Golf Course was a philosophical decision as much as a financial one,” Wood said. “I strongly believe that it is not the government’s role to spend taxpayer dollars to compete in a private industry like golf. That Great Life has committed to keep Shiloh’s doors open in the long-term and has demonstrated the ability to do so is a win-win-win – for the golfers, for Great Life and for the taxpayers.”
Founded in 1985, Great Life Kansas City owns courses around the Kansas City metro area and in St. Joseph, Mo., including Staley Farms and Liberty Hills in Clay County.
Constructed in cooperation with Martin, the 18-hole 122-acre public course opened in 1995. The partnership with Martin continued for a decade; then in 2005 Platte County became sole owner of the course. Over the years, the course was operated by both the county and private management. Construction costs were paid off in 2015, using funds from the half-cent parks and recreation sales tax. Shortly after, the county contracted with KemperSport to take over management of the course, but the county’s only enterprise fund continued to lose money.