Saudi tournament tie prompts cancellation of Trump golf contract in New York

View of the Manhattan skyline from Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, a municipal course that cost the city $127 million, New York.

NEW YORK — It sounded like the kind of event Mayor Eric Adams would like to bring to New York to boost the economy: an elite international golf tournament that would attract visitors and their wallets.

But because the tournament has ties to the Saudi government and will be held at a stadium owned by a city run by former President Donald Trump’s family business, it has drawn widespread criticism, especially from family members of victims of the terror attacks of September 11. .

Adams, whose administration allowed the tournament to go ahead, is now facing pressure from the City Council to reconsider its stance.

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Adrienne Adams, the City Council Speaker, and Shekar Krishnan, the Council member who heads the Parks and Recreation Committee, sent a letter Wednesday night to Adams and Sue Donoghue, the parks commissioner, calling on them to immediately cancel her contract city ​​with the Trump Organization holding the march to Ferry Point in the Bronx and canceling the tournament.

The letter argues that the city has new grounds to end the relationship after the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen H. Weiselberg, pleaded guilty to a felony count of wire fraud last month. The city’s agreement with the company requires its employees to comply with all federal, state and local laws.

“The public park should not be in the hands of Donald Trump or the Trump Organization,” the letter said.

The letter also argues that “the Saudi-backed tournament hurts the families of the victims of 9/11 and insults the public memory of that horrific day.”

The City Council, which does not have the power to revoke the contract, may hold a hearing next week to consider it, Krishnan said in an interview. He said he had spoken to the victims’ families about their concerns.

“They agree with us on the urgency of the situation,” he said.

Eric Trump, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, said in a statement Thursday night that the company worked with the city to approve the event.

“We are incredibly proud to host the best female golfers in the world at Trump Ferry Point,” Trump said in a statement. “A big thank you to the City of New York and the Parks Department for their support and approval.”

The organization noted that it would be the second time the tournament would be hosted in New York state. It was held last year at the Glen Oaks Club in Nassau County.

The golf tournament, a women’s event that is part of Aramco’s team series, is scheduled to begin on October 13. The field is expected to feature two of the most established stars in US women’s golf, sisters Jessica and Nelly Korda.

Like the LIV Golf Series that has elevated the highest levels of men’s golf by poaching some of the top players from the PGA Tour, the Aramco Team Series is connected to the Saudi government’s web of business. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which is overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is the “presenting partner” for the series, and the title sponsor, Aramco, is Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant.

The Trump Organization argued that the city would have to pay a whopping $30 million “termination fee” to cancel the contract — a potential outcome that Adams spokesman Maxwell Young said “no one should want.”

Young echoed Adams’ position that the event should not be held on the course but that the city could not legally prevent it.

“It’s outrageous that the Trump Organization agreed to host this tournament knowing how much pain it would cause New Yorkers, and it’s disappointing that the contract we inherited from previous administrations provides absolutely no legal basis to prevent it.” Yang said.

Adams Chief of Staff Frank Carone held at least two staff meetings this year to discuss the golf tournament, according to a copy of Carone’s daily schedules released by the city as part of a Freedom of Information request.

Adams met with family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks last week to hear their concerns about Saudi Arabia’s support for terrorists.

Before the meeting, Brett Eagleson, president of a group called 9/11 Justice, said Adams should stay away from ground zero and 9/11 memorials this month. The group also protested an LIV golf tournament at the Trump Organization’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, this summer.

After the meeting, the mayor’s office quietly issued a statement saying the golf event should not be held in the city.

“I stand with the 9/11 community and shared my deep anger with the decision to host this tournament here where so many suffered so much,” Adams said.

The Trump Organization’s management of the course, known as Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, was the subject of a tense battle with the city last year. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio moved to end the company’s contract after the riot on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol in Washington.

But a judge ruled in April that the Trump Organization could continue to operate the golf course and found that the city had improperly terminated the contract. De Blasio defended his push to oust the company and urged the Adams administration to appeal the decision.

Adams, a Democrat who is more business-friendly than his predecessor, has not appealed the judge’s ruling.

The Trump Organization will go on trial for tax fraud in October, and Weiselberg is expected to be a key witness. He recently pleaded guilty to more than a dozen charges and admitted to participating in a long-running tax evasion scheme.

The letter from Council leaders also claims that Trump is listed as the guarantor of the permit agreement with the city and faces several investigations of his own, including a possible violation of the Espionage Act.

“The cloud of legal investigations of the most serious nature surrounding Trump impedes his ability to act as a guarantor as required by the terms of this license,” the letter said.

The Aramco Team Series, which has infused women’s golf with new competitions that include seven-figure prize money, is sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and women have been able to participate in its events without facing the repercussions faced by LIV Golf players, such as suspensions.

The team series was played in New York last year at the Glen Oaks Club in Nassau County, but organizers said this week that moving the event to Ferry Point offered “the perfect location” given its proximity to Manhattan. Organizers are touting the tournament as “the first time an event of this caliber has been held in New York.”

Representatives for the team’s lineup did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

But measured by ticket prices, the series doesn’t garner the kind of interest that other sporting events do: Adults can score admission to all three days of the tournament for a total of $10 a person.

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