Enthusiastic crowds will converge on Parker in the hopes of driving their team to victory in the Solheim Cup. The business community is banking on those same crowds to drive an increase in sales.
An estimated 125,000 spectators will attend the bi-annual event — one of the most prestigious women’s golf tournaments — this August at the Colorado Golf Club southeast of South Parker Road and Stroh Road. Of those spectators, approximately 60 percent are expected to come from out of state, and a good portion will come from abroad.
Tournament director Becky Newell said the LPGA has worked closely with tourism information bureau Visit Denver to find travel accommodations. However, there is a glaring lack of lodging around Parker, and hotel rooms in Lone Tree and the Inverness Business Center are already booked through the six-day event. Latecomers are having to reserve rooms at hotels in Denver.
It’s a good problem to have. The Solheim Cup is expected to deliver an economic boon to local businesses. The 2009 Solheim Cup, hosted by a course in a Chicago suburb, generated a $19.4 million economic impact for the area.
“We have been told to expect very similar impacts and spectator profiles,” said John Hall, economic development director for Parker.
The town has been assisting with logistics, including the locations of parking lots, and even contracted with Events, Etc. specifically to help with the tournament. The event planning firm is providing tips to the owners of restaurants and shops to help them prepare for a temporary influx of customers. The suggestions are covering the basics, such as having more staff on hand, keeping more food in stock and extending business hours, said Josh Martin, a Parker Town Council member.
“As we get closer to the event, the buzz is starting to pick up,” said Martin, who has been prepping for the Solheim Cup since before it was officially announced in summer 2011.
Martin foresees both short- and long-term benefits from Parker hosting the international tournament. The brief “economic bump” will provide a boost for businesses and the town government. Martin theorized that a $20 million economic impact would bring in $1.6 million in sales tax revenue. But there is a grander vision in mind.
“I think long-term, the exposure will be the most valuable piece,” he said. “This is such a unique opportunity to host a tournament of this type and this magnitude.”
Every shot will be broadcast live from the Colorado Golf Club, which hosted the 2010 Senior PGA Championship. Newell has an office at the course from which she oversees operations, volunteers, sponsors and team captains, among other responsibilities.
She has helped coordinate a gala at The Wildlife Experience and assembled sponsorship packages for local companies, including Parker Adventist Hospital and E-470, the latter of which is a direct route from Denver International Airport to Parker. Newell is also communicating with a local business that’s producing a Parker restaurant guide and mobile app to help visitors find destinations.
Martin hopes the Solheim Cup can showcase the town’s most attractive assets, like the Colorado Horse Park equestrian venue, and convince visitors to either move their families or relocate their businesses to Parker.
“We’re doing everything we can to put our best foot forward,” he said.
The Solheim Cup — scheduled for Aug. 13-18 — deviates from the traditional style of tournament play, much like the men’s Ryder Cup. It pits the 12 best players from the United States against the top 12 players from Europe.
The teams play for national pride, eliciting raucous cheers not typical of a professional golf event. The American team has never lost on U.S. soil and hopes to regain the coveted Waterford Crystal prize that the Europeans captured in Ireland in 2011.
Solheim Cup projections, by the numbers:
TV viewers: 6 million
Economic impact: roughly $20 million
Spectators from out-of-state: 60 percent
Number of players per team: 12