Loan breathes life into Players

Money being invested into dining service, events

The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

While the historic Players Club on Gramercy Park has been struggling for the last few years with controversy over financial mismanagement, changes in administration and over $4 million in debt, the new administration has quietly been working on adjusting course to increase revenue and get programming back on track.

The club did not pay off the debt outright, but President Arthur Makar said that they were able to obtain an $8.5 million loan through a single lender and will be using the money to revitalize the club and increase revenue. The loan came from the Terrapin Lending Company, which issues loans to small businesses.

“We were in debt up to our ears,” Makar said. “Through (club treasurer Michael McCurdy’s) good work, we did something that everyone said was impossible to do: find financing to move us forward.”

Town & Village reported in 2014 that the club was considering selling off artwork to deal with some of the debt, including a valuable John Singer Sargent painting of actor Joseph Jefferson, but Makar said the club luckily did not have to resort to this tactic.

“We’re proud we ended up not having to consider selling the Sargent,” said Michael Barra, chair of the the managing committee and executive committee of the Board of Directors. “If the financing hadn’t come through, we would have been in dire straits but we were even able to lend the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They recently returned it so he’s back in the clubhouse where he’ll be for all time. The club has not and will not be selling any of our artwork. It’s not fiscally prudent.”

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Amidst some reductions, Players reopens

By Sabina Mollot

Players President Arthur Makar with Michael Barra, the club’s managing committee chair on the night of the club’s post-summer reopening party (Photo by Nicole Donje)

Players President Arthur Makar with Michael Barra, the club’s managing committee chair on the night of the club’s post-summer reopening party (Photo by Nicole Donje)

Prior to the reopening of The Players after its traditional summer hiatus, club brass was focused on money-saving moves, such as a couple of key employees being let go, including the general manager, and paring down the club’s dining service, which is now for events only. Otherwise only the bar will remain open for business on a regular basis.

Reached earlier this week, Club President Arthur Makar said the club is still trying to dig its way out of the serious financial hole it’s been in, and is also considering selling a valuable John Singer Sargent painting of actor Joseph Jefferson to raise money.

Makar said the current debt is around $3.5 million, but said the club was also re-evaluating its profit and loss on events, both for members and external ones in which hosts pay rent to the club for the space. Additionally, in recent months, the club’s event organizer was fired, with Makar explaining the club just couldn’t afford to keep him.

“One of the reasons The Players has been in such bad shape over the years is that we’ve never looked at, as well as we should, what it costs to run the events we were holding,” said Makar. “We have to at least break even on the member events and we have to at least make a little bit of money on the events run by people from the outside. In that case, we’re not different from any other club.”

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