City seeking long-term operator of Eagle Creek course

The city of Indianapolis is seeking a long-term manager of Eagle Creek Golf Club after terminating its contract with the former operator, which it intends to sue for defaulting on a $3.5 million loan he had received to make course improvements.

Bids for an eight-year contract beginning Jan. 1 will be accepted through July 29, according to the city’s request for proposals.

Officials in March appointed RN Thompson Golf, led by Bob Thompson, to manage Eagle Creek on an interim basis. RN Thompson also manages Smock Golf Course, a municipal course on the city’s south side, in addition to several other area courses, including Gray Eagle, Ironwood, Winding Ridge and Southern Dunes.

RN Thompson took over for Jerry Hayslett, who had managed the municipal golf club on West 56th Street since 1999, after the city terminated his contract for defaulting on the loan.

City documents show Hayslett made his last loan payment in late September, for $22,631.07, which was applied to the loan’s interest. He skipped payments in October and November before the city resumed paying the loan in December.

The city paid roughly $214,000 in principal, interest and late fees to keep the loan in good standing through March, when RN Thompson assumed management, said Jennifer McGilvray, spokeswoman for Indy Parks. The city expects to continue making additional loan payments through December totaling $247,000. All told, the city will pay $461,000 in loan payments until a long-term operator assumes management of Eagle Creek, she said.

According to the RFP, the winning bidder is expected to reimburse the city the $247,000 it paid after naming RN Thompson interim manager.

McGilvray said on Tuesday that the city intends to sue Hayslett to recoup the other $214,000, though she didn’t know when a lawsuit might be filed.

“The amount that we’re going after is still being determined because we’re still investigating any kinds of damages,” she said.

Hayslett received a 20-year, $2.5 million loan in 2000, which was refinanced for a larger amount in 2007, according to city documents. The city extended its contract with Hayslett in 2007 for an additional seven years after he agreed to provide $1.2 million in upgrades to the two-course facility.

Eagle Creek contains two 18-hole courses, The Sycamore Course and The Pines Course.

The city’s RFP mentions “outstanding debt” on the golf course totaling $3.5 million and says the Department of Parks and Recreation will request “innovative ideas” to repay the debt.

“Assuming or restructuring this debt should be included in your financing plan,” the RFP tells potential bidders.
Revenue at Eagle Creek fell 20 percent, from $1.3 million in 2006 to $1 million in 2009, before rebounding slightly to $1.1 million last year, according to city documents.


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