Column: To Edina golfers: Thank you for your patience
By Scott Neal
Edina City Manager
During the very early hours of Friday, Feb. 12, 2012, a lighting fixture malfunctioned and ignited the fabric of the Braemar Golf Dome. The fire burned a hole in the fabric, which caused the dome to deflate. The air rushing out of the hole in the dome fed the fire, causing it to get hotter and the hole to get bigger. As the hole got bigger, and the air rushed harder, the volume of the fire grew. There were no eye witnesses to the event, but the evidence says it didn’t take long for the dome to burn to the ground.
Because it was winter, the loss of the Braemar Golf Dome was felt immediately. Golfers who were depending on the facility to keep their games sharp felt the loss right away, as did the city employees who worked in the facility. There was never any real question about whether the City would rebuild the dome and we hoped to be open for the 2012-2013 season. Like most property owners, the city buys insurance to protect itself against property losses. city staff organized the investigation of the fire with the Fire Department, and then filed the necessary paperwork to make a claim on the city’s insurance policies.
We have filed claims with Travelers, the city’s insurance carrier, under both our property and business interruption policies. To date, we have received a partial payout on the property insurance of $668,222. We have also received a partial payout from Travelers of $47,945 from our business interruption coverage to partially compensate the city for the operating revenue the city is not earning due to the loss. That money is in the bank and dedicated to rebuilding the dome.
While the city has been working with Travelers to evaluate the loss and negotiate a final settlement, we have also been working with a team of consultants to plan the design of a new golf dome. Our efforts have been guided by two general goals: to replace the old dome with a new dome of the same scale that has been updated for changes in building and fire code and to pay for it all with the insurance settlement money.
This past fall, we learned from our consulting team the estimated cost of replacing the dome is likely to be about $3.2 million. About the same time, we learned that the probable size of the insurance settlement was going to be in the neighborhood of $2 million. Because the cost of replacing the dome is higher than we hoped and the probable settlement is lower than we need to achieve our goals, staff continued to work with the insurance carrier to make sure that we are getting every single dollar of insurance settlement that we are legally entitled to.
As we have pressed the insurance carrier for more money and presented evidence to justify our claims, the insurance carrier has pressed back. This negotiation process that has led to delays in the start of the rebuilding project, but it has also produced positive financial results. We now believe our final settlement will be closer to $2.2 million than $2 million – an outcome that gets us closer to — but not quite at — our goal of getting enough insurance settlement to rebuild the dome.
To the loyal customers of the Braemar Golf Dome, I offer my apologies and my gratitude for sacrificing the last season and a half of indoor golf. You have been patient. We are very close now to finishing our settlement process with the insurance carrier. The next step for in the process will be to present the matter to the City Council and seek their approval to finish the project design and to advance the project through the public bidding and contract award process. With a timely Council affirmation and good construction weather, we hope to have a new Braemar Golf Dome ready for use later this year.