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Save Princes Club from closing down


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Princes Club is the best waterski/wakeboard facility in europe with 4 boat lakes and 2 cable tows just half an hour from central London. Over the years it has been the home of champions from Andy Mapple to Jodi Fisher, Nicole Arthur and Aaron Larkin. The Princes pro-am slalom event has hosted all the sports great and good over the years including Willie, Parrish, Cox, Ross, Rossi Beauchesne, Tgas, Travers, you name them and now it has all come to a sorry end.

 

Skiing has now closed at Princes and the doors of this once great club will be closing for good on November 8th. The owner has no interest in the sport and due to general mis-management over the last 5 years the club is making a huge loss and he's not prepared to bankroll it any longer. The trouble is he is also not prepared to talk to members to see what can be done to turn the club around or to sell it for a reasonable price to people willing to keep the business going. He is talking about selling it for redevelopment (unlikely) or just mothballing it and keeping the asset for his kids.

 

We are hoping we may be able to persuade him to change his mind by the strength of public opinion and have set up a petition site. If as many of you as possible could sign the petition we may just change his mind. Oh and If anyone has a spare £2.5-3m to spend just let us know as well!!!

 

the link is as follows

 

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/232/671/619/save-princes-club-from-closing-down/

 

 

thanks ballers!!

 

 

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@Hipsup how are the funds going to be used?

 

If this is a well organized and thought out campaign I will put all of my social media assets behind it.

 

Send me an email. Horton@BallOfSpray.com

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@hipsup As a business owner, I think you may be overlooking or oversimplifying Bill's position. I dont know how long he has owned or operated the club but it sounds like at minimum, five years and maybe much much longer. Things happen in business just like things happen in family life. Feelings get hurt, lines get crossed, money comes and goes and not always in the right way. People dont pay their bills, people are disrespectful of other peoples property and often, possible without even knowing it, can step on toes. If the club is operating at a loss month after month, why should he keep it open? If he cant make the numbers work, what makes you think you can? If he can afford to shutter the place and wait out a better income opportunity, he may not need the money and if he put his heart into it and over the years felt unappreciated or slighted by those who benefitted from his efforts, he may be doing it to payback those he felt slighted by. Of course I am just speculating, I have NO IDEA, but I know from my own experience that the above issues can and do happen and may give you some insight on taking a different approach to Bill. Instead of a poll to chastise him for closing the place, why not a huge thank you for what he has done and a pledge from the community to help him in the future? Just a thought.
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@SDNAH2OSKIER of course you are right- I accept there is always two sides to all arguments. In many ways Bill has been really good to the members because he has kept the club open for much longer than he needed to. On the other hand he has done many things to lose and alienate members and overall membership is now down 2/3rds from the numbers when he took over. Without wishing to bore you about the details there are specific reasons why the club now loses money and it could be quite easily turned around over time.

 

True to say there is a complete mistrust between the owner and members and I'm sure he feels let down by us as much as we do by him. Trouble is he has never talked to us, never met us and refuses to open any sort of dialogue with us. The sad reality is that he chose to buy the club and his decisions have turned a business that broke even into one that loses money. He is a very wealthy man and whilst I don't expect him to keep ploughing money in to a failing business I do think he should give us the chance to keep the club open in some form or rent it to us.

 

The club has been a waterski venue for more than 50 years and has a rich history. I guess it boils down to whether you believe it is right for one wealthy individual to be able to play god and just close it down on a whim.

 

For those of us that love the sport and want to ensure that it has a future we need to make sure that clubs like Princes are protected. I have nothing against Bill and in many ways I feel sorry for him but the purpose of the petition is not to slag the guy off but to hopefully show him how much the club means to us all and to maybe open some form of dialogue.

 

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My post was meant to consider taking a different approach with him. I am completely sympathetic to your plight, and I wish you the very best. I am just saying you know he is a crotchety old bagger up for a good slagging off??? Is that how you would say it? I would just consider some alternative techniques. Old rich dudes are peculiar and you never know what might work......
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"The club has been a waterski venue for more than 50 years and has a rich history. I guess it boils down to whether you believe it is right for one wealthy individual to be able to play god and just close it down on a whim."

 

Actually, I do believe it's right. He owns it. Regardless of it's history, It's his to do with as he pleases. If it's not a viable business for him, it's not a viable business for him. Unless you can pony up the $ to buy it from him, there's not much you can do about it.

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@SHANEH - Ultimately he does own it and in law, of course, he can do what he wants with it, however I don't think its necessarily that simple. We have seen a lot of this lately in the uk with football clubs (soccer to you guys) where new owners have come in and saddled clubs with debt, run them to ruin with overspending on giant ego trips and then put them into receivership or administration.

The law says that the clubs are owned by the bank or the rich man on his ego trip but in truth they are owned by the people that pay to watch their team every week. I'm not saying a ski club is truly comparative but there are similarities.

Clearly, John Henry would not be allowed to just shut down the Red Sox or Liverpool football club if he wanted to and whilst we don't have the lobbying power of those supporters we can stand up for ourselves and try to make sure that the club always remains a skiing venue in some form.

At least, thats our aim.

Thanks to you all for your interest.

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@MattP - exactly - I would definately drop a few hundred up front to "prebuy" sets at princes, at the least if they could ensure some private owner could pull some sets on the lakes, I would consider that an investment.

 

In ways I am surprised more US waterskiers don't form "travel co-ops" organized to hit a group of ski sites in an area such as London, prearranged so you'd have boats/drivers/beds/lunch. I'd sell the gf on that for a vacation.

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I am with Shane on this one.

 

It is no mystery to me as to "why" Karl Marx found a home in the U.K.

 

The Right of Private Property to do with as you wish was the cornerstone of this republic.

Anybody here in the N.E. who has tried to buy an appropriate piece of property and dig a ski lake knows the high cost of the "Do-gooders" who think that they have the right to tell you what to do with it. And then bury you with regulatory B.S.

 

I am sorry to say that I hear the echo of that here.

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@otisg - haha . I can assure you that I am neither a marxist or a "do-gooder" but I do believe there should be some controls on development and land use, otherwise we would have chaos.

 

In this case, the owner bought a ski club and we are just trying to make sure that it stays a ski club. I don't think thats unreasonable. Whether he wants to continue owning it or sells it is up to him, but we will fight any proposed change of use or closure.

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Maybe the owner of the club is being saddled with additional environmental restrictions, or unreasonable requirements. I can speak from experience that we have to make a constant presents at certain city counsel meetings to preserve successful business, and what Otis's said.
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Lets us Americans think about this situation this way. What if Okee. were being shut down. No more skiing there ever again. What would you do to change this outcome? Yes, I know it is owned by the city but they can still shut a park down. I think that these two locations have a very similar relationship to their respective countries.
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I realize Okee and Princes are similar. BUT, one IS owned by the public and one is private. I just don't agree with the public trying to force a private owner to do what THEY want with HIS property.

 

If the greater good is to have Princes open, then there should be a push for the public to buy it and create a public park out of it, much like Okee. If the city or county(or whatever you call it in GB) can't make those $ #s work, then there's not a lot of options here. But you can't force a private owner to do something with his property that he doesn't want to.

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Hipsup - You (as group) should have thought ahead and bought the place.

Presumably you knew in advance that it was "For Sale".

You didn't act.

Someone else did.

Now you are whining here and elsewhere trying to invoke a Mob mentality (never pretty) to prevent the rightful owner from doing as he sees fit with HIS property.

Put on your Big Boy pants and stop saying disparaging things about the owner and see if there is a way for the members to buy the place.

His profit will be the price of your intransigence on the first go-round.

There is a good lesson here for all of us.

If you really care - Don't wait until the proverbial horses are out of the barn and long gone before reacting.

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@otisg - I haven't made any disparaging remarks about anyone as far as I can remember. We in the UK love moaning and whining about things - its what we do when it rains and we can't find anything better to do!

 

I can see we are not going to agree on this and that's fine - you and Shane are entitled to your opinion and I am to mine. All I will say is that Bill did not buy a bit of land or an empty building. He bought a club with existing members, some of whom have skied at Princes for more than 30 years, some have grown up there and some have spent all their spare time there. Ultimately you are both right - he owns it and he can do what he wants with it but nothing we do in life is without consequences and the consequences of him closing the club are that it will leave many,many members and skiing enthusiasts in the uk saddened.

 

We can't force Bill to do anything he doesn't want to do because he holds all the cards. All we can do is try and see if we can get him to change his mind - if he wants to. At the moment he wont talk to us, but maybe in due course he will. If we do nothing the club closes - If we try to make some noise there is maybe a chance it won't.

 

I can assure you we are not making disparaging comments and not slagging him off in any way. If you look at the comments on the petition they are all polite and all just asking him to re-consider. All very British!!

 

 

 

 

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I understand you very well Hipsup, I guess we see things different here in Europe. There are regulations about land use, so he bought a sports use land and if the County or Goberment does not change it, he can not do what he wants with the land.

 

Anyway, last time I was in Princess it was full of people, most in the cable wakeboard and in the gym, but I remember that I thought it should be a good business... and we ate quite good there, one of the best lasagna of my life and quite cheap.

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However constructive I want to be I cant help but feel emotional about it as I have invested so much time and money into the club. What I write is probably somewhat unprofessional but someone needs to say it.

 

Hipsup has a far calmer and logical approach to this than me, and has certainly never spoken bad about Bill or anyone else. On the other hand, I have only seen the negative with the current owners and management. I struggle to see any logical thought process in anything they have adopted. (have had to seriously edit/censor)

 

I have to be brutally honest, the fact is we faced this at the beginning of the season and managed to get a reprieve. Then new management were taken on board and made further ludicrous decisions that I and many others struggle to see the logic behind those decisions.

They literally let/forced there customers walk out the door, even myself who skied on average 6-10 sets a week, plus my memberships. A club is only as valuable as its members and private or not, you let your members walk, your nothing but a nice piece of land with some water.

 

I don't want to see the club be reopened with the same management put into place to be in the same position 6 months later, however I certainly do not want it to close.

I have heard this and that and so on, I don't actually know what to believe, im just p*ssed off that it has come to this and in my opinion it was avoidable which makes me believe this was always the plan..

 

Thats my (Censored) "British" opinion about it.

 

I'm happy to put my name to this and maybe the current management could enlighten me to why the club bled money.

 

Jay B

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Skied here a number of times. Very sorry for the staff. Skiers and boarders are relatively well catered for though as do have other choices nearby, principally Liquid Leisure and JB SKi both of which are broadly similiar scale. Personally I found Princes OK once I actually learned to ski which may sound a bit daft but partially explains the problem it (and other UK clubs) suffer, ie where do you to learn if you're paying £30 ($50) for a 12 minute slot on a borrowed ski and there's a guy waiting on the dock with £2K worth of carbon ski and hardshell boots!

 

We are hardcore though, skied 11 out of 12 months last year (January freeze out) aiming to make it 12/12 in 2012 and I'm not even making it round full-course yet!

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you ask the person with the 2k ski and hardshells if he could kindly sit on on a set and give some pointers. that person was probably me. im the only person that skis with double hards and an Elite... (last year) and I spent most of last year (to the annoyance of my devoted girlfriend) every spare minute in the boat as an "observer".

however I do completely understand your point and the club in my opinion was WAY to intimidating for the new skier. and as a member I did my best to make everyone feel welcome, spent hours ney DAYS in the boat with people having fun, learning to run the course or getting deep. the club is currently closed with huge concrete slabs on the entrance: not a pretty look :(

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@LeSkiAvantTout - Thats right, BAA are buying it (not done yet tho') and want to use the lakes for water management purposes from Heathrow airport. I'm not sure what that means, but I guess it means they can dump all the runway water in the lakes without worrying about poisoning any skiers/public.

They wanted the club closed before they agreed to buy it and don't want the water to be used by anyone!

So London loses a world class sporting venue in the year of the Olympics just so Heathrow airport can dump polluted water - That's progress folks!!

 

@bogboy - sorry don't know what you mean (eminent domaine?)

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