AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -

Designed in 1930, Indian Canyon is one of the oldest golf courses in the Inland Northwest, and now Northern Quest wants to sponsor the course, raising questions about the possibility of a public-private partnership.

It would be unique because the city has never allowed a private business to sponsor their properties, the only exception being for special events like the 4th of July fireworks show.

"We just kind of have our feelers out there and just kind of testing the waters to see if this is something that we want to do and how we would want to pursue it," city spokesperson Marlene Feist said, adding that the casino came to them months ago with an offer to sponsor the golf course.

Feist said the offer got the city thinking.

"It's always a challenge to make our operations self sufficient, so golf courses are a challenge like that too and so we started think about the idea. Is that something we'd consider?"

Despite rumors the golf course would be out right sold to the Kalispel Tribe, owners of Northern Quest Casino, Feist said that's not the plan and would require a public vote. Golfers at Indian Canyon Monday wouldn't vote yes to selling the course, but the idea of sponsor money on the other hand was well received.

"It might do good, I mean you know they'd probably do a lot better tournaments and things," Maurice Carrier said.

"I think it's a good idea, as long as the course stays the way we have it," Jo King said.

For now, Feist said, the city and the tribe are in an exploratory phase. If the sponsorship moves forward the relationship would be purely monetary; the city would remain in charge of operations. And then? The possibilities seem endless.

The Kalispel Tribe released the following statement on the discussions late Monday afternoon:

"The Kalispel Tribe of Indians and Northern Quest Resort and Casino, along with others in our community, would like to see Indian Canyon Golf Course maintained and improved. It's one of our area's treasures. As the City of Spokane considers options to save this historic site, we will continue to be interested in potential sponsorship or support of this municipal asset."

In the next phase of this potential sponsorship the city's parks department board will be asking for public and business input.