Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is Austin's Lions Municipal In Danger?

Could Austin's Lions Municipal Golf Course be in danger of disappearing?

Maybe. The question hinges on a very valuable tract of land owned by the University of Texas, and what the university ultimately decides to do with that land.

The land in question is known as the Brackenridge Tract, donated to the school in 1910 by San Antonian George Brackenridge (who also donated the land in San Antonio where Brackenridge Park and Brackenridge Golf Course are located). The approximately 350 acres sit adjacent to Town Lake, and now located on it are open green spaces, student housing, some commercial buildings leased to companies, and Lions Municipal Golf Course.

Lions opened around 80 years ago, and the land on which it sits is leased by the City of Austin from the university. That lease has to be renewed every so often, and its next renewal date is in 2019.

Because all the land of the Brackenridge Tract is worth so much money now to the university or to any potential buyers, the school has had a task force studying the question of what to do with it. The task force released its recommendations last week, one of which was allowing the lease on Lions Muny to expire so that parcel can be converted into something else (perhaps just good ol' cash).

Meanwhile, the City of Austin has broached in the past the possibility of purchasing the Lions land outright, and has indicated it may try to do so again. But can the city afford it?

Can the city afford not to? Lions Muny is a historic and much-loved course. The outcry from the Austin golf community, should the demise of Lions appear immiment, would be very loud, indeed.

So Lions Muny does not appear to be safe. But my guess is it will wind up surviving.

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