San Francisco will host the U.S. Open golf championship in June, but the economic impact of the event may slice south toward San Mateo County.
Peninsula leaders are cheering the United States Golf Association’s decision to house nearly half its staff in Burlingame during the event, allowing San Mateo County cities to bag coveted tourism dollars.
The championship, one of the four annual major PGA Tour tournaments, attracts the biggest names in the sport and rewards them with a multimillion-dollar purse. For the fifth time in six decades, the event will be held at the Olympic Club, a private course near Lake Merced that toes over the San Mateo County line.
Organizers believe the 2012 event will draw some 230,000 guests and have a total economic impact of $140 million to $170 million.
Part of the draw for that crowd, said U.S. Open Managing Director Reg Jones, is its location.
“We’re really fortunate to be in San Francisco,” he said. “It’s almost like a destination U.S. Open because there’s so many great things to do here. It’s not hard to convince people to come out and see the U.S. Open when, oh, by the way, you get to hang out in San Francisco.”
But many event staffers, and some players, will likely find themselves staying in San Mateo County. The USGA has contracted with Peninsula hotels for some 4,066 room-nights. Meanwhile, the rest of the staff will stay in downtown San Francisco, for about 4,314 room-nights.
Jones said a similar arrangement existed in 1998, the last time the U.S. Open was held at the Olympic Club.
“It all depends on the property, the duration the staff is going to be here, transportation,” he said.
Most of the media will be directed to the Airport Hyatt in Burlingame, and Jones said some other staff, and even players, will be housed in San Mateo County.
Burlingame City Manager Jim Nantell couldn’t be happier with that arrangement. With his city’s 12 percent hotel tax, a few thousand room-nights quickly converts into an extra $50,000 in the public coffers. Taxes from Burlingame’s 13 hotels provide nearly a third of the city’s budget.
USGA staffers aren’t the only ones likely to stay in San Mateo County, he said. Many of those 230,000 event attendees will be looking for rooms to stay in as well.
“We can certainly understand why they’d choose Burlingame,” he said. “The cost per room is less than they’d pay in The City, so it’s a good deal for them and a good deal for us.”
Bagging the room-nights was a coup for San Mateo, said Anne LeClair, president of the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau. She noted that her group is trying to do the same thing with the upcoming America’s Cup — drawing people to San Mateo County who are looking for an alternative to staying in The City.
But San Francisco Travel Association spokeswoman Laurie Armstrong says that it’s not such dire news for The City. She said that while “of course we’d love to have everyone stay in the city of San Francisco,” she’s not losing any sleep over it. After all, many of the attendees will be filling up San Francisco beds and restaurant booths.
“There’s plenty of room-nights to go around,” she said.
The U.S. Open was held at the Olympic Club in 1955, 1966, 1987 and 1998.
Depends on course capacity. The Olympic Club’s capacity is somewhat smaller than other recent courses.
2008: La Jolla, 296,000
2009: Farmingdale, N.Y., 279,000
2011: Bethesda, Md., 229,000
2012: San Francisco*, 230,000
Approximate spectator hotel room-nights:
Anticipated 2012 hotel room-nights for staff, players, media, vendors and USGA guests:
San Mateo County: 4,066
San Francisco County: 4,314
Average, excluding on-site:
Total estimated economic impact: $140M$170M