Metroparks to Raise Zoo and Golf Rates in 2016


The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will increase admission prices by one dollar in 2016. The Board of Park Commissioners voted on the proposal at their jam-packed final meeting of 2015 Thursday morning. 

Zoo Executive Director Chris Kuhar presented the proposal. He said a price increase would still keep Cleveland competitive with peer zoos in the region. The hike for general admission ($14.25, up from $13.25), and for children aged 2-11 ($10.25, up from $9.25) will take effect January 1. Kuhar said that the $12.25 rate for seniors (what a savings!) and Free Mondays would be unchanged.

The Cleveland Zoo, unlike counterparts in Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Toledo, offers free parking, and is the only zoo in Ohio, Kuhar said, to provide free internal tram service.

Additionally, Kuhar proposed a "bulk purchase" option for lettuce leaves, which visitors can feed to giraffes at the new Ben Gogolick Giraffe Encounter at a rate of $2 per leaf. (LOL). In 2016, guests will have the option to purchase three leaves for $5.

The Zoo ticket hike isn't the only price increase planned for the Cleveland Metroparks in 2016. The Board also approved a slight increase to greens fees at Metroparks golf courses.

CMP's Golf Executive Director Sean McHugh presented a proposal which would increase 9-hole weekday greens fees at Little Met and Mastick Woods by $0.50. Greens fees for both 9- and 18-hole rounds at Sleepy Hollow and Manakiki would increase by $1 on Monday-Thursday, and $1/$3 on the weekends.

Also, McHugh proposed a new pricing structure for Fridays. He said CMP was leaving "a lot of money on the table" by allowing Friday golfers to pay a weekday rate. The Friday rate will now be halfway between the M-T rate and the weekend/holiday rate.

For example, a round of 18 holes at Sleepy Hollow on Monday-Thursday will cost  $32 (last year $31); on the weekends and holidays, it'll cost $42 (last year, $39); and on Fridays, it'll cost $36 (last year N/A).

In an exchange with McHugh, board president Dan Moore suggested that CMP ought to raise greens fees even more. He said that, like the marinas, golf courses ought to pay for themselves, and given that (according to an estimate by CFO David Kuntz) courses were about $1 million away from funding operations and capital expenditures exclusively through user fees, further increases might make sense.

Commissioners Debbie Berry and Bruce Rinker disputed that claim, arguing — in Berry's case — that they walked a quote unquote fine line. If you raise greens fees too high, she said, customers might play golf elsewhere. The ever lawyerly Rinker advised that a great many golfers aren't members of country clubs.       

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