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After being shuttered due to financial woes, Butterfield Trail Golf Club to reopen under new operator

Butterfield Trail GC
A view of the Butterfield Trail Golf Club.

EL PASO, Texas -- After being shuttered by the City of El Paso due to financial woes, the defunct Butterfield Trail Golf Club will now reopen as early as this fall under a new operator.

El Paso City Council decided Tuesday to lease management of the city-owned golf course and concessions to New Mexico-based Spirit Golf Management for ten years.

Spirit Golf runs two other courses in the area, the Picacho Hills Country Club in Las Cruces and Sierra Del Rio Championship Golf in Elephant Butte.

Butterfield, which opened in 2007, was designed by famed golf course architect Tom Fazio and had repeatedly been named one of the top municipal courses in America by Golfweek magazine.

The city was loosing more than a million dollars a year under the former management they had hired, but officials said they believe the new arrangement with Spirit Golf prioritizes profitability.

"Over the term of the contract we're going to save $20 million, that's a big deal. And the profit from the concessions agreement we estimate $3 million, so a profit of $23 million over the term of the lease," said Terri Sharpe of the city's aviation department - which is responsible for the land the golf course sits on, along with its primary duty of running El Paso International Airport.

The unanimous council decision Tuesday to give Spirit Golf a lease to operate the course was a dramatic reversal of fortune for area golfers.

On May 31, the city had permanently ceased operations of the 18-hole course that never made money and had survived since 2008 on airport subsidies; the city said the course was no longer sustainable given a municipal budget crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo and other officials expressed regret at shutting down the course at the time, but said they had no choice given the city's financial condition.

Since its closure, the course had drawn interest from a number of potential suitors - including a top local developer who wanted to buy it; all of those offers sought to breathe new life into Butterfield.

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