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York Downs interest heats up

Will York Downs members vote to sell?

Will York Downs members vote to sell?

Sources are now saying York Downs, the private club in Markham, Ont., has up to 11 offers on the property, with an estimated price of upwards of $325-million.

A note to members says the process is now in “final stages.” If the club presents an either/or offer to members—stay put or take $325-million buyout—it will be interesting to see if a buyout manages to get 66% approval.

The club sent this out to members:

“As you know, the receipt of an unsolicited offer to buy our property and relocate the Club triggered a process, supported by the membership, which saw the Club go to market through an open bid procedure. To maximize the number of offers and to create the highest degree of competition among bidders, the request for offers to purchase included no specific conditions. Prospective purchasers were aware that the unsolicited offer that triggered the process included a relocation element and so, not surprisingly, the Club received a wide variety of proposals.

With Colliers’ assistance, the Board provided points of clarification to guide Colliers in discussions with each of the bidders. As those discussions continued, several bidders decided to opt out of the process while others revised their bids to provide further clarity and remain in consideration. The process has now evolved to the point where the Board has determined that four offers merit further consideration with additional refinement of details.”

It has been reported that the Stollery family that owns Angus Glen might be part of a deal. That’s not shocking. After all, the Stollerys developed most of the land in the immediate area. However, I doubt it will be one group doing this on their own, especially given the pricing. And the Stollerys, who surely have the net worth to pull off such an undertaking, involve several family members since the passing of Gordon Stollery, who died two years ago. To get all family members to agree to such a huge deal might be a struggle.

So where does it go from here? The club says there’s a meeting upcoming—and that its GM,Leonardo de la Fuente, has departed which is odd in the midst of such a big deal:

Colliers continues to work with these prospective purchasers and will report back to the Board once they have completed this stage of negotiations. As you can appreciate, this is a sensitive process and it is in our collective best interests to maintain confidentiality as the process continues. We hope to conduct a Town Hall to share further details with the membership by the end of September. Unforeseen events might cause that date to change, but I will certainly keep you informed as we progress through the next days and weeks.

Understandably, the sudden departure of the General Manager prompted a lot of discussion and speculation among members. I want to assure you that the resignation was not connected in any way with the bid solicitation process.

 

One thing is for sure—private clubs throughout Toronto are gearing up for a sale. And if it comes, don’t be surprised if there’s a Groupon ready for members to jump ship en masse.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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