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It could be lights out at Wingpointe in five years.

Published July 15, 2013 7:23 pm

Agreement • FAA raises rent at airport golf course by $55,000; course will remain open through 2017.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake City's rent is going up at the 18-hole Wingpointe Golf Course at Salt Lake City International Airport, but the links will remain open through at least 2017.

The cost of a golf round will remain the same for now — $33 for 18 holes.

"At this point, there is no change in operation [at Wingpointe]," said Rick Graham, Salt Lake City Department of Public Services director. "The course is open and we are committed to its continued operation."

Instead of paying $1 in rent for the current fiscal year, Salt Lake City will pay the Salt Lake City Department of Airports $55,000, Graham said. The rent will go up $5,000 per year until 2017.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration directive after an audit of Salt Lake City International Airport released in 2012, the airport department, which operates independently of Salt Lake City, must charge "fair market value" for the land it leases for the golf course.

But Salt Lake City proposed to the FAA that instead of the $155,000 rent, which approximates fair market value, it be allowed to pay $55,000 per year.

The FAA agreed, on the condition that a memorandum of understanding that would have allowed Wingpointe to operate until 2087, be amended to end in 2017. In addition, the city agreed to rezone the golf course from "open space" to a designation that would allow "aeronautical uses," Graham said.

If the Department of Airports does not need the land for such uses by 2017, the city can pursue another five-year lease extension for Wingpointe at fair market value.

Pat Shea, who was chairman of the airport's board of directors when the golf course was built in 1991, said he is disappointed in the arrangement reached between Salt Lake City and the FAA.

He said the deal was the "convergence" of a heavy-handed federal government and an airport department that seeks to make more money.

"It's a marriage made in heaven or hell, depending on your viewpoint," he said. "Golf [in Salt Lake City] has become an orphan child to parents with other interests."

If the airport forces closure of Wingpointe, Shea said, it must reimburse the Salt Lake City Golf Enterprise Fund that built the links at a cost of $2.2 million more than two decades ago.

csmart@sltrib.com