The Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Washington, one hour south of Seattle, may ordinarily be a relatively sleepy place, but last month, the golf course and the businesses, hotels and restaurants around it saw an influx of cash and visitors when it became the location for the 2015 U.S. Open Golf Tournament, which was held from June 18th to 21st. Though the final figures aren’t in yet for the overall economic impact the event had on the region, many of those involved say it should break records. It was the first time in the 115-year history of the U.S. Open that the event was held at Chambers Bay.
“We had our best U.S. Open sales ever, so we’re really excited about that,” Mary Lopuszynski, the U.S. Open Merchandising Senior Director, told Fox News affiliate Fox13. “We surpassed Torrey Pines in 2008, which was the record up until now.”
Merchandise vendors at Chambers Bay reported record sales, with more than 130,000 transactions completed during the event. It helped that souvenir sellers were offering not only golf-related merchandise, but also items for visiting and resident Washington State fans and Seahawks fans. Merchandise sellers reporting selling 100,000 hats over the course of the four-day event. Golf balls with the U.S. Open logo were also popular.
The State of Washington, together with Pierce County where Chambers Bay is located, put a significant investment into the course to make it suitable for the U.S. Open, and early reports indicate that it was a wise investment.
“Sales tax alone in the State of Washington, we’re estimating is $8 million,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “We expect when the reports come back, it’ll be a huge economic benefit.”
In addition to merchandise and sales tax, the event also racked up a record number of volunteers to work the many stands, concessions and functional administrative jobs required to pull off a successful event. Fox13 reported that filling a roster of volunteers normally takes the U.S. Open a couple of months, but organizers of the Chambers Bay U.S. Open said it took only 36 hours to fill volunteer positions.
The 2015 U.S. Open Golf event was also a record-breakers in its online presence. The event reported the highest Web traffic numbers for a four-day championship in U.S. Open history. Traffic was 116 percent greater than Web site traffic for the 2014 event.
While the total numbers aren’t yet available, local authorities and Pierce County officials have estimated that the 2015 U.S. Open will bring a $140 million economic impact to the region, according to a recent Forbes article. While the 2014 event brought the region around Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina about $238 million, this figure covers the back-to-back weeks of the men’s and women’s events held that year. In 2013, the event was held at the Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia, and the region reported a $100 to $120 million bump to the local economy.