2003: GCSAA sets sights on Florida

By Michael A. Boslet

Two Florida cities – Orlando and Jacksonville – have emerged as frontrunners in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s search for a new home.

Several sites in both cities are being considered, and a consultant representing the GCSAA spent Jan. 14-15 looking over developments hoping to land the association. Phoenix made the GCSAA’s short list, too, but the city is unlikely to get even a look-see, said Stephen Stoner of FPL Associates Consulting, a division of FPL Advisory Group, a real estate and financial services firm in Chicago.

GCSAA chief executive Steve Mona said eight possible sites have been considered, adding that “it’s not a foregone conclusion that we’re moving” from the organization’s longtime home base of Lawrence, Kan., where nearly 120 people work.

The World Golf Village, which tried to lure the GCSAA to its St. Augustine-area development in 1998, and ChampionsGate, a golf-lifestyle community being built southwest of Orlando, are among the locations being considered, Mona said.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has been lobbying for the GCSAA to move to the World Golf Village.

“We’ll do everything we can to get them here,” he said. “I’ve made my feelings known. They belong here.”

In moving, the GCSAA wants to establish partnerships that will heighten the visibility of the association and the golf course superintendent. In November, Mona said “strategic partnerships” with an established golf course and hotel, both giving the GCSAA signage and preferred rates, were among principal criteria to be negotiated in a potential deal.

A roadblock to moving is the potential sale of the association’s 80,000-square-foot office building situated on seven acres in west Lawrence, Kan. The total cost of the four-story building, including upgrades and land, is $8.4 million. Mona has said there has been an offer on the complex, but it was considered too low. However, he added that incentives on the back end of a possible relocation deal could tip the scales in favor of moving.

Mona said Stoner, the relocation consultant, is expected to submit a report on the possible relocation sites in time for the Feb. 6-7 GCSAA board meeting on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

– Scott Kauffman contributed

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