With an estimated 170,000 people expected to attend the 2013 US Open Championship over the course of the tournament's run in June, Ardmore-area businesses are learning how they might capitalize on an unusual opportunity—while also tempering their expectations.
The 2013 US Open, to be held at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Haverford Township, runs from June 10-16, 2013. This year will mark the fifth time Merion Golf Club has hosted the championship, the last time being 32 years ago, in 1981.
Tuesday night at Ardmore Toyota, more than 30 members of the Ardmore Business Association met with USGA Championship Director Hank Thompson, USGA Volunteer and Player Services Liaison John Coppins, Lower Merion Police Lt. Dave Snyder and Long and Foster realtor Bob Thomas, who runs 2013golfrentals.com, to learn what residents and local businesses can expect come June.
"This area, around Merion Golf Club and in the community, is really going to be the center of attention for the golf world and for the sports world for that week," Thompson told ABA members Tuesday night.
About 35,000 ticketholders will attend the US Open, and between paid ticketholders, players, caddies, vendors and other personnel, an estimated 170,000 people will attend the event over the course of the week, Thompson said.
Ardmore business leaders cautioned owners to temper their expectations for increased traffic, however, citing the game's smaller size and Ardmore's distance from the action.
While a US Open championship can bring an estimated $130 to $170 million in revenue to the surrounding area, Merion's championship will have roughly 40 percent fewer ticket holders than a typical US Open due to the course's small size, according to Thompson.
And, with Rosemont being the closest Regional Rail station to the golf course and the Norristown High Speed Line also likely to see a lot of spectator traffic, Ardmore is off the beaten path for many US Open ticketholders.
But with some "guerilla marketing," Ardmore Initiative Executive Director Christine Vilardo said, she's hopeful that Ardmore will see a significant boost in activity the week of the championship.
That marketing includes plans for shuttles to and from downtown Ardmore, volunteer street teams, Ardmore-themed banners and posters, and kiosks located by train stations containing maps and information about Ardmore businesses.
A golf-themed kick-off event—the "Ardmore Open"—is planned for Saturday, June 8, and aside from the sporty events, it still looks to be a happening weekend in Ardmore. A Suburban Square Sidewalk Sale is planned for June 6-9, First Friday Main Line's car parade on June 7, and Clover Market on June 9.
The hope is those events and strategies will attract not only faces from out-of-state folks or US Open volunteers, but also residents of nearby areas like Wayne, who may not think of Ardmore as a destination location.
"People that live in the surrounding area that may not have been aware of Ardmore ... those are the people we want to get to come back," Vilardo explained.
What do you think of Ardmore's plans for the 2013 US Open? How should business owners prepare? Do you have your own set of concerns about the championship? Tell us in the comments.